01/03: IceCaps Weekly
IceCaps take two-of-three in Southern Ontario. McCambridge named Eastern Conference Head Coach for 2012 AHL All-Star Classic
After a nine-day layoff for Christmas, the St. John’s IceCaps dove headfirst into the action this past week and didn’t miss a beat, winning two-of-three games on their Southern Ontario road trip. Saturday’s shootout victory over the Toronto Marlies turned out to be a special one, as it earned Head Coach Keith McCambridge a spot behind the bench at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic Jan. 30 in Atlantic City.
The first year coach has guided the IceCaps to a 19-8-4-1 record, good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. But the team’s .672 winning percentage is the highest in the conference, and because winning percentage is the criterion used to select the all-star coaches, the 37-year-old McCambridge was awarded the honour.
The IceCaps started the week with a tilt against the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum, and it was goaltender David Aebischer who stole the show. The Swiss netminder made 39 saves – including several of the highlight reel variety – to pick up his seventh win of the season in a 3-1 St. John’s triumph. The game was scoreless going into the third period, as Bulldogs goalie Nathan Lawson was equally as sharp. But captain Jason Jaffray, in his first game since returning from the Winnipeg Jets, scored a power play goal just 20 seconds into the final frame to give the visitors the lead. Kevin Clark made it 2-0 a little more than a minute later on a terrific solo effort, and Eric O’Dell capped off the scoring with his fourth of the season just a minute after Clark’s goal to extend the lead to three. The IceCaps’ three goals in 2:12 was enough to take the wind out of the sails of the Bulldogs, who did manage to get one past Aebischer midway through the period, but that was all they could muster.
Saturday, the IceCaps travelled up the road to Toronto to take on the Marlies in the first of two weekend matinees, and it was Aebischer who got the call again for St. John’s, this time saving his heroics for the shootout. Aebischer turned aside three-of-four Toronto shooters, while Jason King, Aaron Gagnon and Ben Maxwell all beat Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens to lift the IceCaps to a 4-3 win. Defenceman Paul Postma scored a first period power play goal to extend his point streak to 10 games, and he added an assist on Carl Klingberg’s team-leading 11th goal of the season later in the period. Jaffray notched a pair of assists on the afternoon, while Arturs Kulda scored the third IceCaps goal, his third of the season.
The two teams were back at it Sunday, New Year’s Day, and looked a little sluggish out of the gates. Matt Caruana gave the Marlies a 1-0 lead at 8:23 of the first period, and the score stayed that way until halfway through the third. The IceCaps outshot the Marlies 25-16 through two periods but could not beat Jussi Rynnas, who was on his game all afternoon. Toronto made it 2-0 on a slapshot goal by Jerry D’Amigo off a face-off at 10:41 of the third, but Gagnon cut the lead in half with his seventh at 12:48. The IceCaps pressed hard for the equalizer late in regulation but Rynnas stood his ground, making 36 saves in all for a 3-1 Marlies win, snapping the IceCaps road point streak at 15 games. St. John’s was looking to tie the record for most consecutive games on the road without losing in regulation time, set by the Milwaukee Admirals in the 2010-11 season, but ultimately fell just short.
This week, the IceCaps return home to face the division-leading Manchester Monarchs for two games at Mile One Centre Friday and Saturday. The Monarchs and IceCaps have been playing leapfrog in the standings as of late, with the two teams taking turns as the leader. Currently, Manchester sits one point up on St. John’s but has played three more games. The IceCaps lead the season series 2-0, having won twice at the Verizon Wireless Arena, most recently a 4-2 triumph Dec. 16. Patrice Cormier had two goals in that contest, including the game-winner, to pace the IceCaps.
- Oh, Snap! The IceCaps saw a trio of streaks snapped Sunday. With the loss to Toronto, the IceCaps streak of 15 consecutive games without losing in regulation time on the road finally ended. Also, St. John’s string of 22 straight games recording a power play goal was snuffed. D Paul Postma saw his personal 10-game point streak (3g, 12a) come to an end as well.
- Up-and-Down: C Patrice Cormier was recalled by the Winnipeg Jets last Thursday and played two games before being reassigned to St. John’s in time for Sunday afternoon’s tilt against the Marlies. Cormier enjoyed a terrific month of December, notching six goals and eight points in nine games. In the two games with the Jets, Cormier recorded one shot and three hits in 13:09 total ice time.
- Back to School: F Shayne Wiebe was released by the IceCaps this weekend, with plans to head back to school. Wiebe will head to the University of Brunswick of the CIS to further his education. In 12 games with the IceCaps, Wiebe recorded four assists and two minutes in penalties.
- The Captain Returns: Captain Jason Jaffray, reassigned to St. John’s during the Christmas break, returned to the lineup this week and made an immediate impact. After scoring a power play goal Wednesday, Jaffray added a pair of assists Saturday and picked up another helper on the IceCaps lone goal Sunday afternoon. The Alberta native has 16 points (8g, 8a) in 18 games with St. John’s this season.