Preview: IceCaps at Senators
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps visit the Binghamton Senators Tuesday night for the first of two meetings on their current seven-game road trip.
The IceCaps are coming off a week in which they saw game action just once, dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal. St. John’s held a 2-0 advantage but gave up two goals late in the third to allow Hamilton to force overtime and a shootout. Despite the IceCaps’ 3-1 lead in the shootout, the Bulldogs stormed back to score three consecutive goals while Nathan Lawson shut the door.
Playing in front of his former home crowd in Montreal, David Aebischer stopped 22 shots in regulation and overtime but was unable to close out the win in the shootout. The Swiss netminder played in parts of two seasons with the Canadiens, going 17-15-3 in 39 games from 2005 to 2007.
Forward Shawn Weller’s goal in the second period on Friday was his 10th of the season and third in his last six games. The big winger has recorded a point in seven straight games, the second-longest point streak for the IceCaps this season behind Paul Postma’s 10-game streak in December.
On the injury front for St. John’s, forwards Jason Gregoire, Marco Rosa and John Albert continue to remain out with various ailments. Defenceman Derek Meech, who sustained a knee injury Jan. 25 at Bridgeport, also remains sidelined with no immediate timetable for return.
With the parent Winnipeg Jets making few moves on NHL trade deadline day, the IceCaps roster appears intact heading into Tuesday night’s contest. Winnipeg made just one trade Monday, moving defenceman Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for a pair of draft picks. The Jets also picked up defenceman Grant Clitsome off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Senators, who continue to struggle after winning the Calder Cup last season, have dropped three straight, including a shootout loss to the Adirondack Phantoms at home Saturday night. Goaltender Mike McKenna’s heroic 50-save effort was matched by Phantoms netminder Michael Leighton, who made 41 saves of his own and turned aside all four shooters in the shootout.
Ranked 26th in the AHL in goals-against per game, the Senators will receive a temporary boost with the addition of All-Star goaltender Ben Bishop. The 6-foot-7 native of Denver, Colorado was assigned to Binghamton after he was acquired Sunday by the Ottawa Senators from the St. Louis Blues for a second round draft pick. Widely considered the best goaltender not currently playing in the NHL, the 25-year-old put up a 24-14-0 record with a 2.26 goals-against average and a 0.928 save percentage in 38 games with the Peoria Rivermen this season.
The IceCaps and Senators have met twice this year as part of a two-game series at Mile One Centre in St. John’s earlier this month. On Feb. 11, Jason King scored the game-winning goal with less than a minute to play to give the IceCaps a 4-3 edge. The following night, St. John’s put up six goals, including a pair from Jason Jaffray and Ben Maxwell, en route to a 6-3 victory.
The IceCaps currently sit first in the Atlantic Division with 73 points and trail the Norfolk Admirals by just two points for the Eastern Conference lead. The Senators sit dead last in both the East Division and Eastern Conference with 46 points.
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 8:35p.m. (all times Newfoundland). Stay up-to-date with the IceCaps on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stjohnsicecaps) and follow the team on Twitter (@IceCapsAHL) for in-game updates.