02/06: IceCaps Weekly
St. John's IceCaps split back to back games against the Sharks
The St. John’s IceCaps received a heavy dose of pugnacity and truculence from the Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks) and did an admirable job of standing up to their tough divisional rival on home ice.
The IceCaps edged the Sharks 3-2 Friday night while dropping a tight 4-2 decision Saturday in the craziest game of the season to date.
Friday, the IceCaps received a great effort from starting goalie Eddie Pasquale, who made 24 saves to pick up his 11th win of the season. St. John’s used an aggressive forecheck early and often and used its speed advantage to control the flow of the game. Arturs Kulda got the home side on the board late in the first with a shot from the point that beat Sharks goalie Harri Sateri, giving the IceCaps a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. After the Sharks tied it up early in the second, all-star defenceman Paul Postma gave St. John’s the lead once again on a one-timer on the power play, an absolute laser that Sateri had no chance of stopping.
Kevin Clark scored his eighth of the season later in the period after outwaiting Sateri and tucking the puck past his outstretched left pad, giving St. John’s a two-goal advantage. Worcester pulledwithin one minutes later on a goal by Jack Combs, a late cut by the IceCaps in training camp who has now found a home with the Sharks. However, the IceCaps held the fort in the final frame, allowing just seven shots and earning their fifth consecutive win.
Looking for just their third home series sweep this season, the IceCaps were met by a cantankerous school of Sharks. The first period featured three fights, including a scrap between Garth Murray and Sena Acolatse off the opening faceoff – and plenty of physical play between and after the whistles. After a scoreless first, Postma notched his ninth of the season when his shot from the point bounced off the end boards and hit Sateri in the back of the leg, causing the puck to cross the goal line. More rough stuff ensued when Kenndal McArdle and Curt Gogol dropped the gloves and Murray tangled with Nathan Moon at the same time, with the latter fight resulting in game misconducts for the players involved. Worcester scored with less than four minutes to go in the period to send the teams to the dressing room knotted at one.
Carl Klingberg’s marker just 1:04 into the final frame temporarily put the IceCaps up 2-1, but goals by Ryan Del Monte and Connolly in a span of 18 seconds stunned the crowd and gave the Sharks a 3-2 advantage, one they would not relinquish.
Sunday’s loss, coupled with a Manchester victory, means the IceCaps’ lead atop the Atlantic Division has been trimmed to six points, with St. John’s still maintaining a three games in hand advantage. Overall, the IceCaps trail the Wilkes- Barre/Scranton Penguins by just one point for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
This week, the IceCaps continue their six-game home stand with games Tuesday and Wednesday versus the Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins) and Saturday and Sunday against the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators).
The IceCaps and Bruins have met twice this season, both in Providence, with each team recording a victory. St John`s won 4-1 in the season opener back on October 7 for its first victory in team history. Paul Postma`s second period goal stood as the game-winner, while David Aebischer made 21 stops in the win.
On October 30, the IceCaps fired 43 shots at Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin but were unable to come away with the two points as the home team won in overtime 4-3. Despite sitting last in the Atlantic Division, Providence has won four straight and has recorded a point in each of its last seven games.
St. John`s and Binghamton hook up for the first time this season Saturday and Sunday at Mile One Centre. The Senators have lost two in a row and sit last in the Eastern Conference with 43 points.
Hot Hand: G Eddie Pasquale has started three of the past five games, rewarding coach Keith McCambridge by winning all of them. Pasquale has allowed just five goals in those three contests, and his win Friday was his 11th of the season, two shy of David Aebischer’s team-leading 13 victories.
Reinforcements: A rough series versus Worcester forced the IceCaps to make a few roster moves in advance of their two-game series with the Providence Bruins this week. F Michael Forney was recalled from the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL while F Josh Lunden was signed to a professional tryout contract. Forney has collected 37 points (13g, 24a) in 44 games with the Eagles this season, while Lunden has recorded 31 points (13g, 18a) in 30 games with the ECHL`s Las Vegas Wranglers.
All-Stars: Defencemen Paul Postma and Zach Redmond and coach Keith McCambridge represented the St. John`s IceCaps on the Eastern Conference squad at last Monday`s AHL All-Star Classic in Atlantic City, NJ. Neither player made it onto the score sheet in the Western Conference`s 8-7 shootout victory.
Racking up the PIMs: The IceCaps and Sharks sent a parade of men to the penalty box in Saturday`s intense affair. The teams combined for 112 minutes in penalties, including six fights and a pair of game misconducts.
Twenty-four and counting: The sellout streak at Mile One Centre has reached 24 games after the weekend series versus Worcester. The IceCaps rank eighth in the AHL in average attendance despite being in one of the smallest markets in the league.