IceCaps hang on to beat Monarchs
Three-goal first fuels 16th road win of the season
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps continued their stellar play away from home, using a three-goal first period to record their 16th road victory of the season in a 3-2 triumph over the Manchester Monarchs at Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.
Kevin Clark had a goal and an assist and David Aebischer stopped 35-of-37 shots for his 13th win of the season. Kenndal McArdle and Jason Gregoire also scored for St. John’s (26-11-5-1), which has won three straight and four-of-five on their current six-game road trip.
The IceCaps stormed out of the gates in the opening period. McArdle got the visitors on the board at the 5:19 mark after some hard work with linemate Spencer Machacek. McArdle converted a beautiful feed from Machacek for his fifth of the season to put St. John’s up 1-0.
At the 9:43 mark, Ben Maxwell weaved his way through several Monarchs and left the puck for Clark, who fired a wrist shot that found the back of the net high on Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones for a 2-0 IceCaps lead.
Then, at 12:46, Jason Gregoire found a loose puck in the midst of a goalmouth scramble and banged home his fourth of the season, sending Jones to the bench in favour of Jeff Zatkoff. The IceCaps took a commanding 3-0 lead into the dressing room, outshooting the Monarchs 17-11.
Manchester finally got on the board at 8:41 of the second period when Marc-Andre Cliche deflected Thomas Hickey’s point shot for his team-leading 14th goal of the season, making it 3-1 IceCaps.
The Monarchs came out strong in the final frame, dominating play and generating multiple scoring chances early in the period. The home team pulled to within one after Brandon Kozun’s nice cross-crease pass found the stick of Dwight King, who was left wide open at the side of the IceCaps net. King tapped it in to make it 3-2.
The IceCaps settled down after that and Aebischer made several key stops in the game’s final few minutes to nail down the win.
Despite what appeared to be a chippy game at times, just one minor penalty was called by referee Jeff Smith. Garth Murray squared off against enforcer Richard Clune in the first and appeared to get the better of the tilt, leaving Clune bloodied heading to the penalty box.
The IceCaps now hold an eight point lead over the Monarchs for first place in the Atlantic Division with three games in hand. The win also gives St. John’s a percentage-points lead over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
St. John’s finishes up its six-game road trip and heads into the all-star break tomorrow night in Portland, where it lost 5-2 last Saturday. The IceCaps are 2-2-0-1 against the Pirates this season.
Catch all the action with IceCaps play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins at 8:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 8:30 (all times Newfoundland).