On the heels of three straight home losses, the IceCaps righted the ship with a successful three-game road trip prior to the Christmas break. Playing threegames in three days, the IceCaps weathered the storm and left for home with five of a possible six points, winning two of three while collecting a single point in a shootout loss Saturday night.
Friday, the IceCaps clashed with the Manchester Monarchs in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division and came away with a tidy 4-2 triumph. David Aebischer made 26 saves and stopped Monarchs winger Dwight King on a penalty shot in the first period to collect his fourth consecutive win. Patrice Cormier
potted two goals, including the game-winner in the second period on a St. John’s power play, to lead the visitors to victory. The win temporarily moved the IceCaps back into first place in the Atlantic.
Saturday, the IceCaps met with the Portland Pirates in yet another divisional showdown. It was a back-and-forth affair from start to finish, with three lead changes and plenty of end-to-end action. Brett Festerling
got the IceCaps on the board just 17 seconds into the opening frame but Marc-Antoine Pouliot tied it with a goal later in the first. Jason DeSantis ripped a shot past Pirates goaltender Curtis McElhinney 1:12 into the second period, but Brett MacLean would later score twice to put the home side up 3-2. With just 34 seconds left in the period, John Albert
broke in all alone and went five-hole for his third of the season to knot the game at three.
The score stayed that way throughout the third as the teams headed to overtime. Neither team found much in the way of offence in the extra frame, so the IceCaps participated in the first shootout in team history. The visitors were unable to beat McElhinney in three tries, however, and Patrick O’Sullivan’s goal on the Pirates first attempt stood as the game-winner as the Pirates edged the IceCaps 4-3.
The two teams wrapped up the two-game series with a Sunday afternoon tilt that was dominated by St. John’s. The teams left the ice after 20 minutes tied at one, but the second period belonged to the IceCaps. Jason King and Carl Klingberg
both scored their 10th goals of the season on rebounds, and Cormier added his ninth (and second of the game) on a nifty deflection off a Spencer Machacek
point shot. O’Sullivan scored a short-handed goal early in the third off an IceCaps turnover to cut the lead in half, but Kevin Clark restored the three-goal lead less than a minute later after a nice feed from Garth Murray. The IceCaps clamped down defensively after that and went on to win 5-2, their 10th win of the season away from home.
St. John’s finds itself back in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with the five-point weekend and has a one-point lead on Manchester with two games in hand. The team will enjoy a nine-day break for the Christmas holidays, returning to action on Wednesday, Dec. 28 against the Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. The IceCaps and Bulldogs have met three times this season, with St. John’s winning twice. In their most recent matchup, the IceCaps blanked the Bulldogs 4-0 on Dec. 2 in Hamilton, with David Aebischer recording the shutout.ICECAPS NOTES:
- Special Teams Update: The special teams units had an average weekend on the road. The PP unit converted on 4-of-22 chances and sits sixth overall in the AHL (20.6%) while the penalty kill was 10-for-13 and ranks 22nd (80.2%). F Aaron Gagnon leads with five power play goals while D Paul Postma and D Jason DeSantis share the team lead with 12 points with the man advantage.
- Return of The Kling: F Carl Klingberg made his return to the IceCaps’ lineup Sunday afternoon and made an immediate impact. The Swedish winger had a goal and an assist and sparked a three-goal second period that allowed St. John’s to cruise to a 5-2 victory. Klingberg’s goal was his 10th of the season, tying him with Jason King for the team lead.
- Streaking: D Paul Postma has been on fire in the month of December. Postma’s three assists Sunday gave him 13 points in nine games, and his current eight-game point streak is the longest active streak in the AHL. His 23 points on the season are third on the team and third in the league among defencemen.
- Lucky 13: The IceCaps’ road point streak has hit 13 games, the longest such streak in the AHL this season. St. John’s has recorded a point in all 13 games away from Mile One Centre (10-0-2-1).
- Et le But! After a slow start to the season, F Patrice Cormier has been on fire as of late. Since Dec. 6, Cormier has scored six goals in seven games, including four in three games this past weekend. Cormier’s nine goals place him one back of King and Klingberg for the team lead.