The St. John’s IceCaps were hampered by a rash of injuries and inconsistent play last week, splitting their two-game series with Hamilton and dropping both contests against division-rival Manchester.
WEEK IN REVIEW:
Tuesday, March 13 – Hamilton Bulldogs 4 St. John’s IceCaps 2
Tuesday’s game against the Bulldogs was a tightly-contested affair for the first 40 minutes, but a poor showing in the third period resulted in a 4-2 win for Hamilton, snapping the IceCaps’ six-game home winning streak. After Ian Schultz got the visitors on the board midway through the second, Jason King scored his team-high 18th goal of the season to knot the game at one heading into the final frame. From there, it was all Hamilton. Newfoundland native Robert Slaney scored his first of the season at 11:19 after a nifty feed from Gabriel Dumont, and Joey Haddad also notched his first goal at 16:58 for a two-goal Bulldogs lead. Andreas Engqvist added an empty-netter with 1:36 left to put the game out of reach. Zach Redmond scored on the power play with five seconds left in regulation, but it was too little, too late.
Wednesday, March 14 – St. John’s IceCaps 6 Hamilton Bulldogs 0
The IceCaps rebounded with a dominating performance Wednesday, shutting out the Bulldogs 6-0 on the strength of Spencer Machacek’s first professional hat trick. The gritty forward opened the scoring at 15:18 of the opening period then tallied two consecutive goals on power plays in the second period to cap of his impressive night. Machacek’s third goal was a thing of beauty, as he took a perfect pass from Jason Jaffray and outwaited Bulldogs goalie Nathan Lawson, finally tucking the puck behind him on the backhand. Jaffray finished the night with three assists, while Redmond, Aaron Gagnon and Jason Gregoire added goals in the romp. Eddie Pasquale faced just 12 shots and was flawless, notching his 20th win and third shutout of the season.
Saturday, March 17 – Manchester Monarchs 3 St. John’s IceCaps 1
Despite sporting their green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys, the luck of the Irish was not on the IceCaps’ side Saturday night. Brian O’Neill’s goal just 42 seconds into the third period held up as the game-winner in a 3-1 Monarchs triumph. The teams were all square through two periods after Kevin Clark tied it with his 11th at 12:47 of the middle frame, stepping around a sprawling defender and beating Monarchs goalie Martin Jones. But O’Neill’s early third period marker and Manchester’s tight checking in the third period were enough to give the visitors the win.
Sunday, March 18 – Manchester Monarchs 3 St. John’s IceCaps 0
Playing with a depleted roster, the IceCaps were unable to muster any offence in a 3-0 blanking at the hands of the Monarchs. The club was able to dress just 17 skaters and fell behind only 20 seconds into the game on a screened shot by Ray Kaunisto that handcuffed Pasquale, who was starting for the eighth straight contest. Minutes later, the IceCaps were dealt another blow when Paul Postma lost an edge coming out of his own zone and collided with a Monarchs forward, sending Postma to the ice in obvious pain. The all-star defenceman left and did not return, forcing the team to play with just 11 forwards and five defencemen for the duration of the game. Despite some pressure in the third – the IceCaps outshot the visitors 13-6 – there was no offence to be found on this day. Kaunisto’s marker stood as the gamewinner as the visiting Monarchs escaped with a two-game sweep at Mile One Centre.
The IceCaps hit the road this week for a six-game, 11-day road trip beginning at the Giant Center in Hershey on Wednesday. St. John’s recently defeated the Bears in back-to-back games at Mile One Centre on Mar. 9 and 10, the only two meetings between the teams this season.
Friday, the IceCaps travel to Syracuse to face the Crunch at War Memorial Arena, where the team dropped a 6-4 decision back on Mar. 3. St. John’s is 1-2-0-0 versus the Crunch this season, having split a pair of games in early December at Mile One Centre.
After leaving Syracuse, the IceCaps head for the second and final time this season to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where they bested the Penguins 5-2 on Mar. 6. On the season, the IceCaps are 1-2-0-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton; the club was swept in a two-game series at Mile One Centre on Jan. 14 and 15.
- Ma-Hat-Trick: Spencer Machacek’s hat trick Wednesday vs. Hamilton was the first of his professional career and fourth by an IceCap this season. Patrice Cormier (Mar. 9 vs. Hershey), Jason Jaffray (Nov. 12 vs. Connecticut) and Carl Klingberg (Oct. 15 v. Hamilton) recorded the others.
- Zurevinski debuts: Recent signee F Scott Zurevinski made his IceCaps debut Saturday night, just hours after landing at St. John’s International Airport and signing an amateur tryout contract. The Quinnipiac University alum landed a big hit and dropped the gloves in the second period, earning seven minutes in penalties.
- Shot Clock Rarity: On Saturday, the IceCaps were outshot at home for just the ninth time this season. The club is sporting a 3-5-1-0 record in these contests.
- Four to Go: With four more sellouts this past week, the IceCaps move one step closer to selling out every home game in their inaugural season. The team has four more home dates left: April 3 and 4 vs. Portland and April 7 and 8 vs. Springfield.
- On the Mend: St. John’s is expected to welcome back regulars Brett Festerling and Garth Murray – both absent from the lineup during the latter half of the recent home stand – on the upcoming road trip.
- Magic Number: The IceCaps magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to eight points after this week’s action.