The Montreal Canadiens have a new farm team this season, the St. John's IceCaps. To help Canadiens fans track the team's performance in the AHL, we have invited Charles Dart, website contributor of the IceCaps' official website to prepare a bi-weekly summary of the action in Newfoundland.
ST. JOHN’S – The St. John’s IceCaps closed out the 2015-2016 season in the same fashion they started it, with a victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Rookie Tim Bozon netted his fifth of the season with just 2:19 to play in regulation on Saturday night as St. John’s defeated Hartford 2-1.
“We felt that our fans deserved at least a good effort, and the best way to finish was with a win,” said head coach Sylvain Lefebvre after the game.
“When Hartford took the lead in the second period we still stuck with it and didn’t panic. Bozon had some good scoring chances all game long and it was fun for him to get the goal.”
With the win, the IceCaps finished in 5th place in the North Division with an overall record of 32-33-8-3.
Although his team missed the playoffs, Lefebvre was happy with the performance of his core players throughout the season in dealing with the multitude of injuries, call-ups, and new players.
“The guys deserve a lot more credit than our results here for the season. With 51 guys coming through this locker room, the leadership group did a great job keeping the guys together and making the guys coming in feel comfortable, feel at home, and feel part of it.”
One such veteran player was captain Gabriel Dumont, who, in his sixth pro season, arguably played his best hockey. The 26 year-old recorded a personal best 30 assists and 49 points and was just one of three players to play in 70+ games for the IceCaps with 71.
Dumont was awarded Most Valuable Player for the IceCaps prior to Saturday’s season finale.
“One thing is for sure; I really enjoyed it here. We had a great group of guys, and I thought we stuck together pretty good,” Dumont told The Telegram Saturday night.
And it was a large group of guys.
The 51 skaters for the IceCaps marks the second most among all AHL teams this season, with the rival Toronto Marlies having had to print 59 different names on jerseys through the 76-game season. Thirty-nine percent of the 51 players had rookie status.
“Of course when there’s so many players coming through, you know you tend to forget who’s got which number” Lefebvre joked. “As a coach it doesn’t matter who’s there, you coach your team. Obviously you need to adjust and switch lines but that’s part of it.”
|"Bozon had some good scoring chances all game long and it was fun for him to get the goal" - Sylvain Lefebvre. |
Assistant captain Bud Holloway tied a personal-best 61 points (19G, 42A) this season and in doing so broke the old IceCaps single-season record for assists (41) and points (59) set back in 2013-2014 by former captain Jason Jaffray. The 28 year-old finished eight in league scoring. Holloway also fulfilled his dream and made his NHL debut on November 27th versus the New Jersey Devils.
Charles Hudon improved upon his 19-goal rookie campaign and finished with 28 goals this season on the Rock, one shy of the team’s record. Hudon recorded 14 goals in his first 41 games but finished the final 26 games by doubling his total.
“I feel good. It was a tough season from the start, I was not happy with my game and how I played,” Hudon said after the final game.
“Everyone talks about second year being hard and it was for sure, but I stepped up my game their in the second half of the season. I want to be better. I want to be a better player on the ice and off the ice and that’s what I try to do every time I step on the ice. I try to be the best one.”
Rookie net minder Zach Fucale picked up the team’s Statoil Community Man of the Year award as well as the IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year. The awards are presented to a player for “his outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations.”
Fucale ended his rookie campaign with a 16-19-4 record with a 3.13 GAA and .903 sv%.
Morgan Ellis broke the IceCaps record for most goals by a defenceman with 16, while Ryan Johnston recorded a new team-record with his +6 rating in St. John’s 7-1 route of the Utica Comets on April 10th.
Ellis, who turns 24 on April 30th, won the Plus-Minus award (+2) as well as Top Defenceman honours. The remaining team awards are as follows:
•Michael McCarron, Top Rookie
•Josiah Didier, Hardest Working Player
•Eddie Pasquale, Fan’s Choice Award
“It’s tough to finish and not make the playoffs, “Lefebvre said in closing out, “but when you look at everything that went on through the season, I am proud of the guys on how they handled themselves and how hard they worked.”
Full statistics here.
Charles Dart is a writer for the St. John’s IceCaps.
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