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IceCaps continue homestand against Pirates Posted by jac on

Look to build on three-point weekend

The St. John’s IceCaps welcome the Portland Pirates for two games beginning Tuesday at Mile One Centre.

The IceCaps (4-1-1-0, nine points) have won two of four on their current six game homestand and sit atop the Atlantic Division standings. Despite ranking last in the AHL in powerplay efficiency (3.4%), the IceCaps have received timely offence and solid defensive play through six games.

Rookie winger Carl Klingberg has scored five of his team-leading six goals at home and centre Riley Holzapfel’s two game-winning goals are tied for tops in the league. The IceCaps’ 2.33 goals against average ranks sixth overall.

The defensive unit has looked especially sharp for the IceCaps thus far, showing good mobility and puck movement. Jason DeSantis saw his first game action on Saturday and recorded two assists while showcasing his smooth skating. Paul Postma, despite being a healthy scratch Saturday night, leads the team in shots on goal along with fellow blueliner Mark Flood.

Returning to Newfoundland for the first time as a coach is John Slaney, a St. John’s native who spent parts of 16 seasons in the AHL. Slaney played in 631 games and recorded 519 points, second all-time among defenceman in league history. Slaney played last season in the Czech League and signed as an assistant coach with the Pirates this offseason.

Also returning to St. John’s is former Maple Leafs goaltender Mike Minard. Minard, the Pirates goaltending and video coach, played two seasons with the Baby Leafs and was a significant contributor to the community. In his two seasons from 2000-2002, Minard won the AHL’s Yanick Dupre Memorial Award for his contributions and dedication to the local community.

The Pirates have been led by rookie Andy Miele, a diminutive centre who captured the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s best player last season after leading the nation with 71 points in 39 games. The 5’9 Miele was leading the Pirates in scoring, but was recalled by the Coyotes on Friday.

The Pirates also received a minor roster shakeup on Sunday when the Coyotes traded defenceman Garrett Stafford along with NHL centre Petteri Nokelainen to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Brock Trotter and a seventh round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Trotter, who was leading the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs in scoring with seven points in five games, is expected to join the Pirates roster.

Both games can be heard on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador and online at Brian Rogers has all the action and is joined in the booth by Brendan McCarthy. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with the pregame show beginning at 7:00.

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