ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- There was an upset on the cards Friday night until it came crashing down around the St. John's IceCaps's ears.
The 14th-place IceCaps were up 2-0 in the second period against the first-place Syracuse Crunch until the Crunch scored two unanswered goals to take the American Hockey League game to a shootout.
Brett Connolly scored the lone shootout goal as the Crunch rallied past the IceCaps 3-2.
"These are the (Calder Cup) champions from last year," said St. John's captain Jason Jaffray. "This is the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year and won the championship, and a lot of the same faces are still over there.
"It's one of the best teams in the league, but at the end of the day we need to get those two points."
The Norfolk Admirals won the 2012 Calder Cup but then the franchise moved to Syracuse, retaining most of their roster.
Tyler Johnson and Dana Tyrell scored for the Crunch (35-17-7) in regulation time.
Jason Jaffray and Patrice Cormier scored for the IceCaps (23-31-5).
St. John's goaltender Ed Pasquale made 29 saves and Riku Helenius had 33 saves for Syracuse.
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge said his team played hard enough, but once again found themselves on the losing end of the game.
"We're not happy losing the game in the shootout, we had the lead," said McCambridge. "We need the two points. We need two points every game. Here we are again talking and we haven't been rewarded for how well the team has played. That's frustrating."
After the IceCaps took a 2-1 lead the Crunch pulled within one after a four-on-four goal from Johnson at the 8:15 mark of the second.
Pasquale made a big save on the first shot by Richard Panik on the two-on-one, but the puck bounced over to Johnson who buried it past the sprawling goaltender.
St. John's could not solve Helenius, who made a number of key saves to keep the Crunch only a goal down, and the momentum swung back to Syracuse.
Pasquale replied back with several big saves and the third quickly turned into a goaltending battle.
The Crunch tied the game 2-2 when Tyrell one-timed a cross-crease pass from J. T. Brown past a diving Pasquale at the 11:37 point of the third.
Jaffray said Pasquale gave the team every opportunity to win, including three big saves in the shootout, but the team was unable to score when it counted.
"I think the effort was there, we were one goal away in the shootout," said Jaffray. "(Pasquale) definitely made some big saves for us in the shootout, and we came up short in the skills competition in the end."
The IceCaps went 1 for 8 on the power play and Syracuse was 0 for 5.