Preview: IceCaps at Bears
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps look to get back on track when they invade the Giant Center in Hershey to take on the Bears Wednesday night.
The IceCaps are losers of two straight and three-of-four overall, having been swept by the Manchester Monarchs at Mile One Centre this past weekend. Just a day after losing 3-1, the IceCaps were forced to go with a depleted lineup on Sunday, and were unable to muster any offence, getting blanked 3-0.
St. John’s was dealt a huge blow on Sunday, losing All-Star defenceman Paul Postma to a leg injury early in the first period. The offensive blueliner was skating out of his own zone with the puck when he lost an edge and slid into a Monarchs forechecker. The Red Deer native did not travel with the team on its six-game road trip, but his prognosis is better than initially expected.
The IceCaps also lost centre Ben Maxwell to recall Tuesday. The former Montreal Canadiens draft pick was summoned by the Winnipeg Jets to fill in for the injured Nik Antropov. In 36 games this season, Maxwell has registered eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points and a minus-6 rating.
The club will get a boost Wednesday, however, when it is expected that Brett Festerling will return to the lineup after missing four straight games due to injury. Forward Eric O’Dell, hurt in Saturday’s game, could also return for St. John’s, while centre Garth Murray will likely draw back into the lineup this weekend.
Also expected to be available for the IceCaps on Wednesday are defenceman Ben Chiarot and forwards Josh Lunden and Dan Dries. Chiarot, a fourth round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, played 14 games for the IceCaps this season, recording two points (1g, 1a) and 19 penalty minutes, before being reassigned to Colorado of the ECHL. In 24 games with the Eagles, the Hamilton native collected 13 points (6g, 7a) and 13 minutes in penalties.
Lunden played two games for St. John’s in early February before being reassigned to the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. In 44 games, the winger has notched and impressive 42 points – including 21 goals – and 61 penalty minutes with a plus-15 rating.
Dries, signed to an amateur tryout contract after completing his senior year at Ohio State University, finished the 2011-12 season with 22 points (13g, 9a) in 28 games to go along with 34 minutes in penalties. The Lake Orion, Michigan-born winger was a former teammate of current IceCaps rookie forward John Albert.
The Bears are winners of three straight and are coming off a two-game sweep of the Albany Devils. Occupiers of fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bears appear to be on their way to a seventh straight playoff appearance.
The only time the two teams met was in early March in St. John’s, when the IceCaps took both games on home ice. Patrice Cormier notched a hat trick in a 6-1 win on March 9, while Jason King scored the shootout winner the following night in a 3-2 triumph.
After their meeting Wednesday, the IceCaps will collide with the Bears on March 31 (again in Hershey) for the final game of their six-game road swing.
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 8:30 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 8:30 (all times Newfoundland).