Preview: IceCaps at Bears
The St. John’s IceCaps conclude their six-game road trip with a return visit to Hershey to face the Bears at the Giant Center Saturday night.
The IceCaps are coming off back-to-back losses against the first place Norfolk Admirals, including a 2-1 setback Friday night. Despite being staked to a 1-0 first period lead on a power play goal by Aaron Gagnon, the club was unable to hold off the streaking Admirals, who battled back to win their 22nd straight game.
David Aebischer has started two consecutive games after Eddie Pasquale suffered an upper body injury in last Saturday’s 2-0 shutout of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Swiss netminder allowed just four goals in the two games this week against the AHL’s top offence and played a huge part in keeping St. John’s in both contests. However he may watch tonight at ECHL call-up Chris Carrozzi could get the start against the Bears.
St. John’s will be attempting to clinch a playoff berth – and the Atlantic Division title – for the third straight game. A single point would guarantee them a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs, while two points would give them the division crown. St. John’s would also clinch a spot if two of the following things happen: (1) a Portland shootout win or loss (regulation, overtime or shootout) at Bridgeport; (2) an Adirondack loss at Connecticut; (3) a Manchester regulation loss at Worcester; (4) a Syracuse regulation loss at Binghamton.
Two other scenarios also exist for clinching the Atlantic Division (other than a St. John’s victory): (1) an overtime or shootout loss at Hershey AND a Manchester loss (regulation, overtime or shootout) at Worcester, OR
(2) a Manchester regulation loss at Worcester AND a Portland shootout win or loss (regulation, overtime or shootout) at Bridgeport .
Got it? Clear as mud.
Hershey, meanwhile, can clinch a playoff berth of its own by recording a single point against St. John’s or if any two of the following scenarios take place: (1) a Portland loss (regulation, overtime or shootout) at Bridgeport; (2) an Adirondack loss at Connecticut; (3) a Manchester regulation loss at Worcester.
The IceCaps will be in tough against a Bears squad that has reeled off seven wins in a row and sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with 86 points (St. John’s also has 86 but is seeded second because division leaders are ranked one through three). Hershey’s last loss came back on Mar. 10 at Mile One Centre in a 3-2 shootout loss to St. John’s.
Wednesday, Hershey pounded last place Binghamton 5-2 on the strength of a four-point night from the league’s leading scorer, Chris Bourque (1g, 3a). Bourque has a league-high 62 assists and 88 points in just 65 games and is one of a trio of Bears’ forwards who have reached the 20-goal plateau this season (Ryan Potulny and Jacob Micflikier are the others).
In their last meeting on Mar. 21 at the Giant Center, the Bears built up a 3-0 lead midway through the second period and went on to win 3-2. Jason King and Aaron Gagnon scored for St. John’s, while Eddie Pasquale made 18 saves in a loss that opened up the IceCaps’ current road trip.
The IceCaps are 2-1-0-0 in the season series, with Saturday’s contest representing their final regular season matchup.
Catch all the action with 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 p.m. (all times Newfoundland).