2015-2016 Season Preview A well-rounded roster for St. John's Posted by IceCaps on
By Charles Dart
Underneath the famous bleu, blanc, et rouge colours of the historic Montréal Canadiens lays their American Hockey League team, the St. John’s IceCaps.
With the transition of the Canadiens former AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs into Mile One Centre this autumn comes a number of returning Bulldogs players as well as fresh new faces – both young and old. With an average age of just over 22 years, the IceCaps have one of the youngest teams in the entire AHL this season. This combination of returning and experienced players alongside young Canadiens prospects makes for a competitive St. John’s team.
Starting his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization before a trade brought him to Montréal in 2013, St. John’s fans may remember Dustin Tokarski from the 2011-12 season when his Norfolk Admirals defeated the IceCaps in the Eastern Conference Finals before going on to win the Calder Cup. In the same year they acquired Tokarski, Montréal drafted Zachary Fucale 36th overall in the NHL entry draft. The 20 year-old is one of the Canadiens top prospects and has played the past four seasons in the QMJHL where he has recorded an astounding 134-49-14 record. In his spare time, he backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 World Junior Championship. Rounding out the goaltending roster is a familiar face in Edward Pasquale. “Ed-die” – a former fan favourite – played three seasons with the IceCaps before succumbing to a hip injury and a move to Hershey, where he sat out all of last season recovering.
The defence is anchored by 25 year-old offensive-defenceman Mark Barberio, who has spent the past two seasons as a top-six defenceman with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was also a key player as an assistant captain with the 2012 Calder Cup winning Admirals. Joining Barberio on the blue line will be experienced AHL defencemen Morgan Ellis, Joel Hanley, Darren Dietz, and Mac Bennett. Ellis, a two-way defenseman, is entering his fourth AHL season and split last season between the Bulldogs and the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL). Dietz and Hanley are both entering their third year, and Bennett is entering his second full season. Offensively minded rookies Travis Brown (Victoria, WHL) and Brett Lernout (Swift Current, WHL) have both completed their junior careers and look to add a bigger scoring touch to the IceCaps defensive lineup. Rounding out the rookie defensive corps are Josiah Didier (University of Denver), Ryan Johnston (Colgate University, ECAC), and Dalton Thrower (Brampton, ECHL).
Up front the IceCaps have no shortage of scoring power. Speedy, highly skilled winger Nikita Sherbak was drafted 26th overall by Montréal in 2014, and has accumulated 160 points (55G, 105A) in 130 WHL games. The Moscow native could play alongside another high-scoring rookie in French-American Tim Bozon. Bozon, 21, played 260 WHL games in British Columbia collecting 294 points (140G, 154A) before playing a single game with Hamilton last season. Another exciting forward to watch is Charles Hudon (122nd overall pick, 2012) who placed second among Bulldogs scorers, as well as all AHL rookies, with 57 points (19G, 38A) last season. He was named to the All Rookie Team for his efforts. His undrafted linemate, Daniel Carr, is entering his third season and the duo look to resume their fine chemistry from last season, possibly alongside Switzerland’s Sven Andrighetto who collected 43 points (14G, 29A) in 60 GP last year.
An important character player on the IceCaps this season will be Hamilton’s captain from last year, Gabriel Dumont, who recorded 45 points and placed third in team scoring in 2014-15. He will be joined by another veteran, George “Bud” Holloway, the oldest player on the team at the age of 27. A leader and journeyman, Holloway played in the ECHL, AHL, and SHL, before joining SC Bern of the Swiss-A League last season.
Jacob de la Rose played 33 games with Montreal last season and will take on an important two-way forward role with St. John’s. Rounding out the returning forwards are Stefan Fournier, Christian Thomas, and hard-nosed winger Connor Crisp.
Undrafted Angelo Miceli, who placed fifth in QMJHL league scoring last season, will battle for a spot among the 13 rookies on the roster. Mark MacMillan and Brandon McNally also look to enter their rookie seasons after each playing four years of collegiate hockey. Fellow rookies Jérémy Grégoire, Markus Eisenschmid and 6-foot-6, 231 lb Michael McCarron complete the forward roster. McCarron, a Montreal first round pick in 2013 (25th overall), blossomed last season with London and Oshawa (OHL), scoring 68 points in 56 games, and impressed during the Habs’ development and rookie camps.
With a solid balance of experience, skill, and youth, the St. John’s IceCaps are poised to develop and play an exciting and competitive brand of hockey in 2015-16.
The IceCaps open the 2015-16 season Saturday, October 10th when they visit the Hartford Wolf Pack. Broadcaster Brian Rogers has the call at http://www.stjohnsicecaps.com and 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Fans can also tune in via AHL Live.