Game Day: IceCaps at Bears
ICECAPS at BEARS
The St. John’s IceCaps (5-7-0-0) visit the Hershey Bears (4-4-1-0) Saturday night at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
LAST SEASON VERSUS
The IceCaps went 3-1-0-0 versus the Bears last season, going 1-1-0-0 in its pair of visits to the Giant Center. In their last meeting on Mar. 31, the IceCaps held on for a 3-2 victory to secure their first Atlantic Division title. Patrice Cormier had a pair of goals – including a shorthanded marker – and Chris Carrozzi picked up the victory in goal, making 24 saves for his first win as an IceCap.
ICECAPS LAST TIME OUT
In the fourth game of their current five game road trip the IceCaps were stymied offensively once again, losing 4-1 to the Atlantic Division leading Manchester Monarchs Wednesday night. St. John’s was held scoreless until 18:46 of the third when Alex Burmistrov redirected a Paul Postma point shot to break the goose egg. The IceCaps have dropped three of their first four games on the trip.
BEARS RECENT ACTION
Hershey lost its last outing 3-2 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers way back on Nov. 3 in a penalty-filled contest. The teams combined for 84 penalty minutes – including four fighting majors each – while Bridgeport was awarded 11 power plays, converting on three of them. Bears goaltender Braden Holtby was peppered with 42 shots in taking the loss.
IN THE STANDINGS
St. John’s, despite its current struggles, sits in a four-way tie for sixth (10 points) with Wilkes-Barre, Binghamton and Worcester but ranks ninth because it has more games played. Hershey’s nine points are good for 12th in the East; the club is tied with Portland and Connecticut but sits behind the Pirates, who have one game in-hand.
D GOING OFFENSIVE
Both teams have received a significant portion of their offence from the blueline. Zach Redmond and Derek Meech are tied for second on the IceCaps in scoring with five points each, while Hershey’s Garrett Stafford leads his club in scoring (1G, 8A, 9P) and Tomas Kundratek (2G, 5A, 7P) sits third. Both Stafford and Kundratek rank in the top-15 amongst all AHL defencemen in points.
With Paul Postma, Ray Sawada and John Albert all back in action, the only IceCap remaining on the injury report is centre Patrice Cormier, who continues to be sidelined with a lower body injury suffered in the Oct. 19 home opener against Adirondack. Cormier is still several weeks away from returning to the lineup.
Like St. John’s last season – when Eddie Pasquale, David Aebischer and Peter Mannino were forced to divvy up the starts between the pipes – Hershey has its own trio of netminders vying for playing time this season. Veteran Dany Sabourin (2-2, 3.54 GAA), rising star Braden Holtby (2-2, 2.21 GAA, .937 SV%) and rookie Philipp Grubauer (0-1, 1.85 GAA) have shared goaltending duties thus far with varying degrees of success. Holtby, who proved himself capable of playing at the NHL level with last season’s stellar playoff performance for the Washington Capitals, is the favourite to see the majority of the action in the crease so long as the NHL lockout continues.
Last season, Sabourin saw time in four games against the IceCaps (three as a starter), going 1-1-1 with a 2.53 GAA and a .908 SV%. Holtby started just one game and took the loss in a 6-1 IceCaps victory, allowing five goals on 29 shots.
Patrice Cormier was unstoppable last season against Hershey. In four games, the New Brunswick native collected five goals, including a hat trick on Mar. 9 at Mile One Centre in a 6-1 IceCaps victory. John Albert notched four assists in four games while Jason Jaffray had three points (1G, 2A) in three games.