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Preview: IceCaps renew rivalry with first place Monarchs Posted by IceCaps on

ICECAPS (28-19-1-2, 59 PTS | 3rd Place, Atlantic) at MONARCHS (32-14-2-5, 71 PTS | 1st Place, Atlantic)
Puck Drop: 4:30 PM NT | Watch: AHL Live | Listen: stjohnsicecaps.com, 930 AM

The St. John’s IceCaps are hoping to right the ship after back-to-back losses but will be in tough as they face the division-leading Manchester Monarchs at Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to the team’s recent 3-2 loss to the Providence Bruins last Friday night, the IceCaps hadn’t lost back-to-back games since a loss in Toronto against the Marlies on Dec. 27.

After posting a red-hot 9-3 record in the month of January, the IceCaps have cooled down a touch and have posted three wins and three losses in their six games in February.

LAST GAME: Love was not in the air for the St. John’s IceCaps on Valentines Day as they allowed a trio of first period goals en route to a 3-2 loss to the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Friday night.

The Bruins’ Mike Moore and the IceCaps’ Carl Klingberg traded goals by the 10:30 mark of the opening frame before Providence turned on the jets.

Craig Cunningham scored his 19th goal of the season on the power play and Justin Florek added his 12th of the year with just under two minutes to play in the first to give the Bruins a 3-1 edge.

John Albert’s shorthanded tally 3:21 into the second period was as close as the IceCaps would come as the Bruins’ Niklas Svedberg shut the door, finishing the game with 26 saves and the victory.

IceCaps starter Michael Hutchinson had a rough first period but settled into the game well and finished with 22 stops.

NOTES FROM LAST GAME: Not dressed for St. John’s: Cody Lampl, Austen Brassard, Josh Lunden, Ryan Schnell, Eddie Pasquale, Kris FredheimAdam Lowry saw his six-game point streak come to an end… St. John’s went 0-for-3 on the power play and has not scored a goal with the man advantage in three straight games… Providence was 1-for-5 on the power play… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Justin Florek 2. Seth Griffith 3. Will O’Neill… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Michael Hutchinson.

TRANSACTIONS: Feb. 14:  Tyler Beskorowany (G) Signed to PTO.

QUICK HITS: While fans in St. John’s were happy to see Eric O’Dell back in St. John’s, the team hasn’t exactly played its best hockey since his return. Despite chipping in with an assist in each of his first two games, the IceCaps have yet to win since his return. O’Dell now has seven points in his last five American Hockey League games. He has points in five consecutive games with the IceCaps.

Sunday’s game against Manchester will mark the team’s second game of a of a five-game road trip. After the game in Manchester, the IceCaps will travel to Portland for a game against the Pirates (Feb. 18) then onto Worcester for a pair of contests against the Sharks (Feb 21-22) before returning to Portland on Feb. 23. The IceCaps’ last five-game road trip resulted in the team returning with five victories dating from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1.

PREVIOUS MATCHUPS: As division rivals, the IceCaps and Monarchs have seen a lot of each other this season, much to the delight of the IceCaps who have performed well against the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate.

In nine games between these teams this season, the IceCaps own a 6-3 record against the Monarchs, including the teams’ last two matches on Jan. 20 (2-0) and Feb. 1 (3-1).

The Monarchs, however, handed the IceCaps their biggest loss of the season on Jan. 18 at Mile One Centre in a 6-0 rout.

Overall, play between the Monarchs and IceCaps has been very even, with the IceCaps leading the lifetime series with a 13-10-1-1 record.

HEAD-TO-HEAD LEADERS:
STJ Eric O’Dell 7 PTS (1G, 6A) | Andrew Gordon 6 PTS (4G, 2A) |Eddie Pasquale (4-2-0, 2.51 GAA, 0.924 SV%)
MCH: Jordan Weal 10 PTS (1G, 9A) | Tyler Toffoli 8 PTS (5G, 3A) | JF Berube (1-4-0, 2.24 GAA, 0.916 SV%)

MONARCHS RECENT ACTION: FEB. 14: MCH 5 WOR 1 | Martin Jones made 23 saves and Tyler Toffoli chipped in with a hat trick as the Monarchs rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Worcester Sharks for their second consecutive victory.

The game was tied at one early in the second period thanks to goals from the Monarchs’ Jordan Weal and the Sharks’ Freddie Hamilton before the Monarchs caught fire.

Toffoli’s first and a single from Tanner Pearson gave Manchester a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Toffoli sealed the hat trick with a pair of goals 3:31 apart in the final frame to earn the victory.

Manchester’s Linden Vey finished the game with four assists.

Sharks starting goaltender Troy Grosenick was a busy man between the pipes and finished the game with 38 saves on 43 shots.

MONARCHS TRANSACTIONS: Feb. 9: Colin Fraser (C) Loaned from Los Angeles (NHL). Feb. 7: Jean-Francois Berube (G) Recalled from loan by Los Angeles (NHL). Martin Jones (G) Returned on loan from Los Angeles (NHL). Tyler Toffoli (RW) Returned on loan from Los Angeles (NHL).

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