ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - It took six games, but the Manchester Monarchs finally figured out the St. John's IceCaps.
Rookie Brian O'Neill scored the game-winning goal in his Manchester debut as the Monarchs beat the IceCaps 3-1 in American Hockey League action Saturday.
The IceCaps (38-17-7) had won the five previous meetings in the season series with Manchester (32-29-3).
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge said he's sick of his team's recent slow starts.
"That's getting old for me. I'm not going to wait around and wait for guys to get their legs going, get their games underneath them," he said. "I'm going with the guys who are playing. Right now, they're not ready to go. They come out, and they stand around, they don't get moving, and the other team gets momentum. They score that goal, and now we're playing catch-up."
Martin Jones put in a first-star performance with 25 saves for Manchester.
IceCaps goalie Ed Pasquale made 28 saves in the loss.
David Meckler and Trent Hunter also scored for the Monarchs.
Kevin Clark scored the lone goal for the IceCaps.
Meckler scored the first goal of the game at 11:48 in the first period as he sprinted for the back post on a two-on-one, and Richard Clune found him for the goal.
The IceCaps came alive in the second, outshooting the Monarchs 12-8, and scoring the period's only goal. Clark made a nifty dangle to trick one of the Manchester defenceman into sliding on the ice before putting the puck into the net.
O'Neill scored the winning goal 42 seconds into the third period. Pasquale made the initial save on a shot from O'Neill, but the Monarchs crashed the net and scored.
"I would say tonight was a game where Manchester was a motivated team, and we were not a motivated team,"McCambridge said. "They're a team that's fighting for their playoffs lives, and we're a team that is trying to find a purpose right now."
St. John's will clinch a playoff spot with a few more points, but IceCaps defenceman Travis Ramsey believes the team has to motivate themselves to start playing better hockey.
"We're not locked in a playoff spot right now," he said. "You've got to get up for something like that. These fans care, and it should be enough like that, but we have to find it in ourselves to do better."
O'Neill signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings after captaining the Yale University Bulldogs this season, and is leading the Moncarchs with 46 points in 35 games.
Hunter added an empty-net goal at 18:39 of the third.
The IceCaps got their first look at Scott Zurevinski, who was signed to an amateur tryout contract by the team when his college season ended. The 23-year-old has played four seasons with the Quinnipiac University Bobcats in the ECAC.
Zurevinski had a minus-rating 1 and had seven penalty minutes in his first game with St. John's, but provided some solid energy.
Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.
Spencer Machacek did not play as he was called up to the Winnipeg Jets earlier today after recording a hat-trick in the team's last game versus the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The team face off again Sunday afternoon at Mile One Centre.