No luck for IceCaps
St. John’s loses 3-1 to Manchester on St. Patrick’s Day
By Chris Doyle
Despite their much-hyped green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys, the St. John’s IceCaps did not have the luck of the Irish Saturday night.
The IceCaps dropped a 3-1 decision to the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night at Mile One Centre on St. Patrick’s Day. It was the first win for the Monarchs in six games against St. John’s this year, a stat not lost on coach Keith McCambridge.
“Tonight was a game where Manchester was a motivated team and we were not a motivated team,” a disappointed McCambridge said in a post-game media scrum. “They’re a team that’s playing for their playoff lives and we’re a team that is trying to find a purpose right now.
“I thought we tiptoed into the first period, waiting to see what Manchester was going to do. By the time the second period came around, we finally got our legs underneath us and got playing again. But too familiar to the Hamilton series where we stand around waiting to see how the opposition is going to play. That’s getting old for me.
“I’m not going to wait around and wait for games to get their legs going, get their legs underneath them. I’m going with guys who are playing.”
Brian O’Neill scored the go-ahead goal just 42 seconds into the third period and Martin Jones made 25 saves in the victory. Eddie Pasquale was brilliant for St. John’s (38-17-5-2), stopping 29 shots in defeat.
It was a tightly-contested game from start to finish, with neither team able to pull away despite some great chances for both sides.
David Meckler got the visitors on the board 11:48 into the game after a poor line change by the IceCaps resulted in a two-on-one rush. Richard Clune skated in off the left wing and waited until the last second before sliding a tape-to-tape pass to Meckler, who converted into the open cage for his seventh of the season.
The score stayed that way until the 12:47 mark of the second period when the line of Jason Gregoire, Ben Maxwell and Kevin Clark cashed in after some hard work in the offensive zone. Gregoire fed Clark with a pass in the slot and the Manitoba native stepped around a sprawling defender, slipping a shot through the pads of Jones to tie the game at one.
“The last 10 games we haven’t been consistent enough,” Clark told the media. “We haven’t clinched anything yet. It’s frustrating. That’s a better lineup than we played (in early January). That’s probably the best lineup we’ve played against them this year.”
With the score tied at one through two periods, the Monarchs came out strong in the final frame and jumped out to a 2-1 lead early. O’Neill made a nifty move to the backhand off a rebound to beat Pasquale for his first professional goal in his first-ever AHL game.
The Monarchs nearly put the game away midway through the third. Defenceman John Negrin fanned on a pass in the neutral zone, resulting in a breakaway for Manchester, but Pasquale made two huge saves to keep the home side in it.
O’Neill’s marker would prove to be enough for Manchester, however. The insurance goal came from Trent Hunter via the empty net with 1:21 to go, sending the capacity crowd to the exits early.
The loss leaves the team 5-4-0-1 in its last 10 games. The teams meet again Sunday afternoon to conclude the two-game series at Mile One Centre.
Prior to the game, the IceCaps announced the signing of F Scott Zurevinski to an amateur tryout contract. The Saskatoon native made his presence felt in the second period with a thundering hit and a subsequent fight….The IceCaps were without a plethora of regulars for this contest. Brett Festerling sat out his fourth straight game, while Garth Murray and Max Macenauer both missed their third straight. Marco Rosa, Derek Meech and Brock Trotter remain out indefinitely while David Aebischer is still considered day-to-day….St. John’s fell to 13-13-4-0 when allowing the first goal of the game….During the first intermission, Denis Tobin won $10,000 in the Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland’s ‘Insurance Goal of the Game’ contest….The IceCaps gave away their St. Patrick’s Day jerseys to fans after the game as part of their “Shirts Off our Backs” promotion.
Game Photos (Jeff Parsons)