After three straight wins to begin the month, including a 4-3 triumph over the Syracuse Crunch Tuesday night, the IceCaps dropped three in a row at home this past week to finish off the home portion of their pre-Christmas schedule.
Tuesday, St. John’s used a dominant second period en route to a 4-3 win over the Crunch. Aaron Gagnon
, Kenndal McArdle
, Patrice Cormier
and Zach Redmond
all found the back of the net in the second period and David Aebischer won for the third time in as many games, making 25 saves. The four-goal period matched a season-high for goals in a period and was just enough for the IceCaps to hold on after the Crunch made a late charge, scoring twice in the final stanza.
Wednesday was another close battle at Mile One between the IceCaps and Crunch. After staking Syracuse to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, St. John’s battled back to make it 3-2 in the second on goals by Kevin Clark and Paul Postma
, the fourth of the season for both players. However, Kyle Palmieri, the league’s leading goal scorer, capped off an impressive performance with his third tally of the game and 17th of the season early in the final period to restore the two-goal lead. The IceCaps got a power play goal from Aaron Gagnon
with 2:19 left in regulation to close the gap to one, but the home team was unable to tie the game in the dying minutes. Brandon McMillan scored into the empty net to give the Crunch a 5-3 victory.
This past weekend, the IceCaps hosted the Worcester Sharks for a pair of games, the third and fourth meetings between the division rivals this season. Friday, the first period saw some spirited action, as IceCaps forwards Tommy Maxwell and Garth Murray dropped the gloves one after the other. The teams traded goals in the first to head into the dressing room tied at one. The IceCaps scored twice early in the second on goals by Zach Redmond
and Cormier but the Crunch battled back to even the score at three after 40 minutes. The teams played a tightly-contested third period until Tommy Wingels chipped one past goaltender Peter Mannino
for the eventual game-winner with 4:07 remaining in regulation time. Mannino made a terrific first save on Benn Ferriero, who had already scored twice for Worcester, but Wingels was in the right place at the right time to give the Sharks the lead for good.
Sunday, the bad blood from Friday night carried over and resulted in five fighting majors and a combined 70 minutes in penalties. Travis Ramsey dropped the gloves twice, while Murray, Maxwell and Eric O’Dell also squared off with the opposition. When the dust settled, it was the Sharks who came away victorious once again, this time a 5-3 win. After trailing 1-0 at the end of the first after a last-second goal by John McCarthy, the IceCaps stormed out of the gates in the second to take a 3-1 lead after two periods. Spencer Machacek
, Postma and Gagnon all found the back of the net in the frame. Like Friday though, St. John’s relinquished a two-goal lead as the Sharks came back to score four unanswered goals in the third. Wingels, Friday’s hero, was the man again Sunday as he scored the tying and winning goals, both of which were gifts. The tying goal came after Wingels missed the net on a clear-cut breakaway, and the puck bounced off the glass, off the top of the net, and finally off Mannino’s arm, crossing the goal line and leaving the capacity crowd at Mile One Centre stunned. The dagger came with just 1:25 to play in the third, when Marco Rosa turned the puck over at the IceCaps blueline, sending Tony Lucia and Wingels on a two-on-one. Lucia slid a pass over to Wingels, who out-waited a sprawling Mannino and fired the puck underneath the crossbar for his second game-winner in as many games.
A 1-3 week leaves the IceCaps at 3-3-0-0 for the month of December and 15-7-4-0 on the season, good enough for first place in the Atlantic Division. The IceCaps now travel to New England for games against the Manchester Monarchs and Portland Pirates, looking to extend their road winning streak. The IceCaps have won six straight contests on the road and have not lost in regulation yet this season, going 8-0-2-0. Friday, St. John’s stops in Manchester, where they defeated the Monarchs 1-0 back on October 8. From there, the IceCaps hook up with the Pirates for a pair of games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The IceCaps and Pirates met twice in late October, with the teams splitting the two-game series in St. John’s. The team will then be off for the Christmas break until December 28 when they take on the Bulldogs in Hamilton. ICECAPS NOTES:
- Special Teams Update: The IceCaps’ special teams units continued their recent string of success this past week. The PP went a combined 7-for-20 (35%) while the penalty kill was 15-for-18 (83%).
- Max-imum Production: Since being assigned to St. John’s last Tuesday, centre Ben Maxwell has been very productive. Maxwell recorded a pair of assists both Friday and Sunday, giving him four points in three games, and played on the team’s top line with Marco Rosa and Spencer Machacek in Sunday’s affair.
- Tossin’ Teddies: IceCaps fans participated in the NTV Teddy Toss during Sunday afternoon’s game. Fans littered the ice with stuffed toys during the second intermission, providing gifts to many of the less fortunate children in the province.
- Packed House: The IceCaps continue to boast impressive attendance figures, selling out all 16 home games so far this season and becoming just the third team so far this season to top 100,000 in total attendance.
- Streaking: D Paul Postma has rediscovered his offensive game. After going pointless for four games, Postma has recorded a point in four straight (2g, 3a). His goal Sunday gave him five on the season, first among defencemen on the team.