The St. John’s IceCaps earned two of a possible six points this weekend to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. The club defeated the Worcester Sharks Friday night before dropping a pair of contests against the Springfield Falcons and Manchester Monarchs Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The IceCaps will face the seventh-seeded Syracuse Crunch in the opening round, beginning Friday, April 20th at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, NY.
WEEK IN REVIEW:
Friday, April 13 – St. John’s IceCaps 3 Worcester Sharks 1
The IceCaps finished up their season series with the Worcester Sharks in a much different fashion than when the teams first met. After several fightfilled games at Mile One Centre in February, nobody would have been surprised to see another heavily penalized contest. However, both teams stuck to playing hockey, and the IceCaps skated away with a 3-1 victory that clinched the second seed in Eastern Conference. St. John’s got on the board first on a Travis Ramsey point shot, and two minutes after Ben Guite tied it for Worcester, the visitors surged ahead again on Jason King’s teamleading 22nd goal of the season. That was all the IceCaps would need, as goaltender Eddie Pasquale shut the door the rest of the way, making 28 stops in all for his 23rd win.
Saturday, April 14 – Springfield Falcons 3 St. John’s IceCaps 1
In a game that essentially meant nothing for both teams, the IceCaps ran into some solid goaltending in the form of veteran Manny Legace and rookie Mike Clemente, who stopped a combined 32-of-33 shots in a 3-1 Springfield win. The Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period on Alexandre Giroux’s 28th of the season, a conversion off a juicy rebound. Daniel New and Boone Jenner both notched their first professional goals, giving the home side a 3-0 lead in the third period. Eric O’Dell continued his assault on the Falcons, breaking the combined shutout bid with his 12th of the season and sixth in the last eight days, all coming against Springfield. David Aebischer got the start for St. John’s and made 26 saves in the loss.
Sunday, April 15 – Manchester Monarchs 4 St. John’s IceCaps 2
With the Monarchs needing a victory on the final day of the season to clinch a playoff spot, the IceCaps were in tough right from the opening faceoff. Manchester scored on its first shot of the game at the 6:15 mark then potted another goal less than two minutes later to make it 2-0 before the halfway mark of the first period. Patrick Mullen added yet another goal in the first to make it 3-0 after 20 minutes of play. The score stayed that way until 9:20 of the third when Patrice Cormier notched his 18th of the season on a St. John’s power play to narrow the gap to 3-1. However, the Monarchs would not be denied on this night. Brandon Kozun scored his 20th, also on a power play, for a 4-1 advantage with just minutes left to play. Spencer Machacek converted with 22 seconds remaining to make it 4-2, his 50th point of the season, but it was too-little, too-late.
With the 2011-12 regular season in the books – the first in IceCaps’ history – the club can shift its focus on getting ready for its first round opponent, the Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch won the season series by taking three of four games, including a shootout victory in their last meeting with St. John’s on Mar. 23 in Syracuse. The largest margin of victory in the four games was just two goals, setting the stage for what appears to be a tight series. Look for a full series preview in the coming days at www.stjohnsicecaps.com.
- Machacek leads the charge: F Spencer Machacek, who returned this weekend from his assignment with Winnipeg, notched three points to bring his season total to 50 points, three shy of his career high of 53 set last season with the Chicago Wolves, but enough to claim the IceCaps scoring title.
- Meech finding his stride: Since returning from injury last Sunday, D Derek Meech has fit in nicely on the IceCaps’ blueline. The veteran has two assists and a plus-2 rating with six shots on goal and has helped the power play get back on track. The rearguard has been on the ice for four power play goals in his three games since returning to the lineup.
- Special teams update: The IceCaps finished the season with the third best power play in the league (20.6%) while finishing 13th overall on the penalty kill. The club’s 87.1% success rate when down a man on the road was good for second place, behind only the Abbotsford Heat.
- Season leaders: In addition to leading the club in points, Machacek tied with D Jason DeSantis for the team lead in assists with 32. F Jason King finished with a team-high 22 goals – including a team-best nine on the power play – while Arturs Kulda ended the season with a plus-18 rating, also tops on the club. D Travis Ramsey led the way with 75 games played, while Machaek’s four game-winners were the most of any IceCap.