Home opener just the tip of the iceberg
An opening night loss was not enough to damper the mood at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
With special guests Howie Meeker, Marc Crawford, Bill Watters, and AHL President Dave Andrews on hand, the St. John’s IceCaps officially ushered in a new era of pro hockey to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Things kicked off outside Mile One Centre several hours before the game, where excited fans gathered for a tailgate party that featured live music from the Rolling Kings, an IceCaps “superfan” contest, and a festive atmosphere.
Once inside the stadium, fans were treated to a spectacular opening ceremony which featured a video montage of the history of hockey in Newfoundland. There was a particularly loud ovation for the clip of Danny Williams’ now infamous “We got it!” from the official announcement of the American Hockey League’s return to the province.
Special guests Meeker, Crawford, Watters and Andrews were joined by team president Williams, IceCaps general manager and Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger and IceCaps chief operating officer and governor Glenn Stanford for the ceremonial puck drop. The fans did not wait for the puck to hit the ice before they began the very first ‘Go Caps Go!” chant in team history.
On the ice, the IceCaps were all over the Bulldogs from the opening faceoff, peppering goaltender Nathan Lawson with 19 first period shots. The Bulldogs opened the scoring at 8:28 on a power play goal by Joonas Nattinen after Patrice Cormier’s slashing penalty.
Hamilton added to the lead in the second period with winger Dany Masse’s first goal of the season just 1:34 into the frame. Philip DeSimone would make it 3-0 with a power play marker at 12:07, much to the chagrin of the IceCaps faithful. DeSimone would later add another goal less than two minutes into the third period.
St. John’s struggled on special teams all night long. The power play unit was blanked on 10 opportunities, while the penalty killers allowed two goals on four chances. David Aebischer stopped 18 of 22 shots fired his way.
Despite the loss, the 6,347 fans in attendance showed their appreciation with a loud ovation at the sound of the final horn. The two teams will meet again Saturday night at Mile One Centre, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Fans can hear all the action by tuning in to 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador and online at stjohnsicecaps.com. The pregame show with Brian Rogers begins at 7:05.