Jason Gregoire and Kael Mouillierat scored second-period goals to power the St. John’s IceCaps to a 2-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in American Hockey League action on Friday night.
Goaltender Mark Dekanich made 26 saves for the IceCaps, who improved their record to 14-15-0-1 for 29 points.
Brendan Gallagher scored for the Bulldogs, who lost a third consecutive game to fall to 10-13-1-2 for 23 points. Cedrick Desjardins faced 25 shots before a crowd of 4,546 at Copps Coliseum.
The IceCaps held a 12-8 edge in second-period shots and pressured the Bulldogs for most the first half of the period, eventually gaining a 2-0 lead.
Gregoire opened the scoring at 5:37 of the second frame, just seconds after being denied by Desjardins on a breakaway. Will O’Neill lofted a shot towards the Hamilton net from inside the left point that caromed off Carl Klingberg, who was battling in front of the goal with Antoine Corbin. The puck fell to Gregoire who was cruising through the slot and he swept it into the net.
The IceCaps took advantage of a roughing call issued to Jarred Tinordi as Mouillierat steered a Derek Meech pass between Desjardins’ legs at 9:41.
Gallagher brought the Bulldogs within a goal at 11:44, taking a beautiful drop pass from Olivier Fortier and charging to the net. He fired a shot from the edge of the right-wing circle that beat Dekanich between the pads for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
The Bulldogs outshot the IceCaps 6-5 in a scoreless third period.
Fortier tested Dekanich in the second minute, as he tried to capitalize on a turnover deep in IceCaps territory. Dekanich slid quickly across his crease in the fifth minute to get his right pad on a shot by Joonas Nattinen, he denied Gabriel Dumont in the 10th minute and snared a Nathan Beaulieu shot at the left post in the 11th.
Desjardins’ biggest save in the period came in the ninth minute when he hugged his left post to foil Ryan Schnell.
The Bulldogs outshot the IceCaps 13-8 in a scoreless first period.
Both teams took turns enjoying a territorial advantage, but the Bulldogs, who enjoyed the period’s two power plays, had the best scoring chances, testing Dekanich on a number of occasions.
Beaulieu flicked a bouncing puck at Dekanich from the deep slot in the second minute and the goaltender kicked out a Brendon Nash shot from the blue line with his right pad in the fourth. Dekanich got his glove on a long shot from Dumont in the fifth minute. Perhaps the home side’s best chance came on the power play with a little over five minutes remaining. Dekanich stopped Gallagher’s shot from the left-wing circle and Mike Blunden swatted at the bouncing puck from the lip of the crease, but Michael Bournival, stationed at the right post, was unable to corral it with Dekanich stranded in the middle of the net.
Desjardins made a number of fine saves, including turning aside a Zach Redmond shot that was tipped in the slot by Maxime Macenauer in the eighth minute and he was alert to steer aside a Paul Postma shot that was redirected towards the net by Bulldogs defender Kyle Hagel.
The Bulldogs scratched Greg Pateryn, Mike Commodore, Aaron Palushaj, Frederic St-Denis, Blake Geoffrion and Alexander Avtsin. The IceCaps were without Travis Ramsay, Jason King, Alexander Burmistrov, Kevin Clark, Eric O’Dell, John Albert, Shawn Weller, Dean Arsene, Hunter Tremblay, Julian Melchiori and Ray Kaunisto.
The Bulldogs host the San Antonio Rampage at 7 p.m. Saturday in the teams’ final game before the Christmas break.