The St. John’s IceCaps picked up three of a possible six points this week, first losing to Hershey on Wednesday followed by a shootout loss in Syracuse on Friday and a blanking of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday night.
WEEK IN REVIEW:
Wednesday, March 21 – Hershey Bears 3 St. John’s IceCaps 2
In front of a packed house at the Giant Center in Hershey, the IceCaps fell behind 3-0 before making a charge in the second period, ultimately losing a 3-2 decision to the Bears. Hershey opened the scoring just 1:56 into the game on a goal by Mike Carman, and added to the lead late in the frame when Ryan Potulny sprung Boyd Kane on a shorthanded breakaway. The Hershey captain made no mistake in burying his 18th of the season, giving the Bears a 2-0 lead after one. Potulny notched his 24th – a power play marker – midway through the second, which proved to be the game-winner. Jason King scored his team-leading 19th goal at 12:12 of the period on a redirection in front while Aaron Gagnon picked up his 11th after following up an odd-man rush. Eddie Pasquale, starting his ninth straight contest, made 18 saves in picking up the loss.
Friday, March 23 – Syracuse Crunch 5 St. John’s IceCaps 4 (SO)
Friday’s game in Syracuse was a bizarre contest that saw the two teams combine for seven goals in the opening 20 minutes and just one the rest of the game, with the Crunch coming out on top 5-4 in a shootout. Former IceCap Riley Holzapfel got the home team on the board on the first shot of the game, just 1:08 after the opening faceoff. J. F. Jacques then got credit for a power play goal just 2:20 later after a fortunate bounce, and Syracuse was out front 2-0 before the game was five minutes old. The IceCaps then rattled off three consecutive tallies, sending Crunch goaltender Iiro Tarkki to the showers after allowing three goals on six shots. Patrice Cormier banged in a shot for his 15th at 4:50, followed by John Albert’s shorthanded marker at the six minute mark to tie the game at two. Jason King’s 20th of the season made it 3-2 IceCaps just 2:14 later. However, Troy Bodie evened the score for Syracuse, an unassisted goal at 9:49, and Luca Caputi restored the lead for the Crunch at 15:11, the seventh and final goal of the period. In the second, Eddie Pasquale took over for David Aebischer between the pipes and was solid, stopping all 22 shots he faced the rest of the way. Jason DeSantis scored his 11th of the season, a power play goal, with just 37 seconds remaining in the second to tie the game at four. The third period and overtime solved nothing, so a shootout was needed to decide the outcome. Crunch goalie Igor Bobkov, who took over for Tarkki in the first, stopped all four shooters he faced while Patrick Maroon and Luca Caputi both managed to beat Pasquale, sealing the victory for Syracuse.
Saturday, March 24 –St. John’s IceCaps 2 Wlikes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 0
Carrying a season-high four game losing streak heading into Saturday’s tilt against the Penguins, the IceCaps controlled the pace in a solid 2-0 victory. A night after coming on in relief of Aebischer, Pasquale stopped all 27 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season and second this month. Gagnon and Jason Gregoire both scored on breakaways, and that was plenty of offence for the IceCaps on this night.
A big week looms for the IceCaps as the team heads to Norfolk for a pair of games Wednesday and Friday versus the first place Admirals. Norfolk is on a record-breaking streak, having won an AHL best 20 straight games, with their last loss coming nearly two months ago in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Springfield Falcons on Feb. 5. St. John’s will attempt to snap the record-long streak and inch closer to securing its first-ever playoff berth. The IceCaps and Admirals split a pair of games at Mile One Centre back in November in their only two meetings this season.
Saturday, the IceCaps wrap up their six-game road swing with a return trip to Hershey, where the club lost 3-2 this past Wednesday.
- Marvellous March: G Eddie Pasquale is in the midst of his best month of the season. The Toronto native has a miniscule 1.58 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage with two shutouts in the month of March. The netminder has seen his goals-against average decrease each month this season.
- First to 20: Newfoundland native Jason King became the first 20-goal scorer in team history with his power play goal in the first period of Friday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch.
- Two or Fewer: With Saturday’s 2-0 shutout vs. the Penguins, the IceCaps moved to a perfect 30-0-0-0 when allowing two goals or fewer in a game.
- Dries, Daavettila sign: Forwards Danny Dries and Trent Daavettila were both signed to contracts and made their IceCaps debuts this week. Dries, who just finished his senior year at Ohio State University, was signed to an amateur tryout, while Daavettila was signed to a professional tryout contract. Daavettila had been leading the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings in scoring with 71 points (17g, 54a) in 66 games prior to his signing.
- Magic Number: The IceCaps magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to four points after this week’s action. Two wins this week would guarantee a playoff spot for St. John’s.