Preview: IceCaps renew hostilities with divisional foes
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps wrap up their six-game road trip with divisional matchups in Manchester and Portland this weekend.
Coming off two straight victories – both via the shootout – the IceCaps will look to extend their lead over the second-place Manchester Monarchs atop the Atlantic Division when they visit Verizon Wireless Arena Friday night.
Wednesday night in Bridgeport, the IceCaps blew a two-goal lead in the third period but managed to pick up the two points with a win in the shootout. Shawn Weller, Jason DeSantis and Paul Postma all scored on the power play and Eddie Pasquale picked up his ninth win of the season, stopping 29 shots and four-of-five in the shootout.
The win was a costly one for St. John’s, which lost defencemen Derek Meech and DeSantis to injuries in the game. With their status uncertain for the weekend, the IceCaps recalled defenceman Jake Marto from the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL. In a 12-game stint with the IceCaps earlier this season, Marto managed three assists and two minutes in penalties while spending the majority of his time playing on the top pairing with Travis Ramsey. In 20 games with the Eagles, Marto recorded five assists and 10 penalty minutes.
Also on the injury front, forwards Marco Rosa and Jason King remain sidelined with various ailments. Rosa has not played since Dec. 18 at Portland, while King sustained an injury in last Sunday’s game versus the Worcester Sharks. Both are expected to miss the entire weekend.
Friday’s opponent, the Manchester Monarchs, have climbed back into second place in the Atlantic Division after a brief slide saw them slip to third. After dropping seven straight to begin the New Year (including a pair of defeats against the IceCaps at Mile One Centre Jan. 6 and 7) the Monarchs have reeled off three consecutive wins, including a 5-1 drubbing of the Adirondack Phantoms Wednesday. Manchester seems to have solved its scoring woes, combining for 14 goals during the three wins.
St. John’s is a perfect 4-0-0-0 versus the Monarchs this season, holding them to two goals or fewer in each of the four games. Friday’s contest is the fifth of eight matchups this season.
Saturday, the IceCaps return to the Cumberland County Civic Center to do battle with the Portland Pirates. One week ago, St. John’s dropped a 5-2 decision to the Pirates after falling behind 3-0. The Pirates are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 contests and take a four-game winning streak into their Friday night matchup at home against the Springfield Falcons.
Saturday night’s tilt is the fifth of eight between the two teams, with the Pirates leading the season series 3-2.
Both games are scheduled for 8:30 p.m. NST puck drops. Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers as he sets the stage with the pregame show, beginning at 8:00 p.m.