Preview: IceCaps at Penguins
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps make their first of two visits to the Mohegan Sun Arena to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Tuesday night.
Coming off a 5-2 victory over the Binghamton Senators, the IceCaps look to finish their seven-game road trip on a positive note. St. John’s had lost three straight before Sunday’s win, surrendering nine third period goals and blowing leads in two of the three contests. So far on the trip, the IceCaps are 2-3-1-0 but can get back to .500 with a win.
Sunday’s contest saw the IceCaps and Senators battle hard for 40 minutes before St. John’s pulled away in the final frame. After Binghamton sent two men to the box at the same time, the IceCaps scored a pair of power play goals 58 seconds apart to surge ahead 4-2. Paul Postma scored his 12th of the season on a blistering one-timer and Patrice Cormier followed it up with his 11th, barging out in front of the net snapping a shot underneath the crossbar.
Newly acquired forward Ray Sawada, picked up on loan from the Texas Stars in exchange for Shawn Weller and Michael Forney, made his debut Sunday on a line with Garth Murray and Maxime Macenauer and displayed the physical style of play expected of him. The other new acquisition, centre Brock Trotter, will not join the team until they return home for this weekend’s series against the Hershey Bears. Trotter was obtained on loan from the Portland Pirates for forward Kenndal McArdle and goaltender Peter Mannino.
Spencer Machacek has been on a nice run during the road trip. The IceCaps’ leading scorer (42 points in 53 games) has a five-game point streak, during which he has accumulated six points (1g, 5a). Cormier and Aaron Gagnon have also been hot, each notching four points over the last two games combined.
Despite the recent slide, the IceCaps still find themselves a comfortable 14 points up on both the Worcester Sharks and Manchester Monarchs for first in the Atlantic Division. Even with Norfolk’s current 12-game winning streak, St. John’s is just six points back for first overall in the Eastern Conference with four games in hand.
The Penguins, two points ahead of Hershey for second in the East Division, are coming off a 3-2 win over the Adirondack Phantoms Sunday. Down 2-1 after two periods, the Penguins clawed back to score twice in the third for the comeback victory. Scott Munroe made 27 saves while the Penguins killed off all four Phantoms power plays.
Forward Bryan Lerg leads the Penguins in scoring with 44 points (22g, 22a) and was a thorn in the side of the IceCaps when the two teams met back in January in at Mile One Centre in St. John’s. Lerg scored a short-handed goal in both games of the series, leading the visiting Penguins to a two-game sweep.
Tuesday’s meeting is the third of four in the season series between the IceCaps and Penguins, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton holding a 2-0 lead thus far. The fourth and final matchup takes place March 24 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
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).