ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - So much for starting the new year on a good note.
The Manchester Monarchs added to St. John's misery Friday night by defeating the IceCaps 3-2 in their first American Hockey League game of 2013.
The IceCaps find themselves in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, while having also played more games than every other team, including six more games than the 12th-place Albany Devils.
Head coach Keith McCambridge said the game was more of the same for the IceCaps this season.
"Always some piece missing, whether it's a guy off the back-end, whether it's a line, whether it's a D-pair, always something that seems to be missing this season," said McCambridge. "That's frustrating. Just not enough there."
Tyler Toffoli scored two goals in the first period, Andrei Loktionov added a goal and Linden Vey had two assists for the Monarchs (15-15-4).
St. John's (15-19-1) had goals from Spencer Machacek and Ray Sawada.
The Monarchs got out to a quick start, completely dominating the first five minutes of the game for a 2-0 lead.
The first goal came at 2:02 on what seemed like a harmless play. Toffoli fired a wrist shot from near the blue-line that somehow found its way into the IceCaps net.
Toffoli's second goal came at 4:57, and came too easily when he was set up just to the side of the IceCaps goal and received a pass from behind the net that he buried.
It appeared the first period would be all Manchester, until Machacek added a goal 16 minutes into the period. Machacek's goal followed a few hard-working shifts for St. John's, and the goal itself was a result of a gritty play.
Machacek swung in front of the net to jump onto a loose puck after Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones gave up a big rebound. Machacek put the puck top-shelf to give St. John's some life.
Machacek said knows the team has to be better coming out of the gate.
"First, we have to come out better, that's the big thing here. We haven't been home for a long time, and you know, we should be fired up to come out here. We came out flat and that's unacceptable," he said.
The second period was a quiet one, which suited the IceCaps, who have generally had a tough time with second periods this season.
Loktionov opened the third period scoring for the Monarchs with a goal at 9:21, finishing off a cross-crease pass from Dwight King for the insurance goal. Sawada scored to bring the IceCaps within one at 18:22 with the St. John's net empty.
"You have to play 60 minutes in this league to win games, especially with us right now, and every team is a good team," said Machacek. "If you don't play a full 60 minutes, you're probably not going to get the outcome you want."
The loss was even more painful as the Monarchs are also in the Atlantic division, and currently sitting three points ahead of St. John's for ninth place in the conference.
The fact that the two teams are divisional rival made the loss sting even more, according to McCambridge.
"We knew how important this game is, we know that we're in a fight here with this team," he said. "Those are two points that you don't want to look back at the end of the season and feel like you let them slip away."
Martin Jones finished with 32 saves for Manchester while Eddie Pasquale stopped 26 shots.