Preview: IceCaps vs. Crunch
The St. John’s IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks) open a two-game series Tuesday night at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
After back-to-back road wins over Hamilton and Toronto last weekend, the IceCaps return home sitting atop the Eastern Conference, sporting a 14-4-4-0 record (32 points). St. John’s defeated Hamilton 4-0 Friday night at Copps Coliseum on the strength of a solid performance by David Aebischer, who stopped all 21 shots for his first shutout of the season. Sunday, Marco Rosa had three points (1g, 2a) and John Albert scored the game-winner midway through the third period to give the IceCaps a 4-2 victory. At 8-0-2-0, the IceCaps are the only remaining team in the AHL yet to lose on the road in regulation time.
Despite all the success away from home, the IceCaps have been inconsistent at Mile One Centre this season. St. John’s dropped a pair of games versus the Marlies on Nov. 25 and 26 and finished its six game homestand a modest 3-2-1-0. The IceCaps play their next four games at home before finishing up their pre-Christmas schedule with three road contests Dec. 16-18.
Rosa continues to fill the stat sheet for the IceCaps, registering eight points (2g, 6a) during a current four-game point-scoring streak. Rosa’s 22 points lead the team and rank him 17th in league scoring.
Meanwhile, Aebischer’s solid play this past weekend means consistent playing time may be hard to come by for each of the three IceCaps goaltenders. Aebischer, Peter Mannino, and Eddie Pasquale have all enjoyed periods of success this season, and all have won at least four games.
The IceCaps also announced several roster moves Monday in an attempt to bolster a team decimated by injuries and call-ups. St. John’s signed forward Daniel Koger to a professional tryout contract and recalled forward Tommy Maxwell from Colorado (ECHL). As well, the IceCaps released Garth Murray from his professional tryout contract and signed him to an AHL contract. Last Wednesday, rookie winger Carl Klingberg was recalled by the Winnipeg Jets, while both Riley Holzapfel and Shawn Weller will miss extended periods of time with injuries sustained this past week.
At the other end of the rink, the Crunch sits fourth in the East Division with a 10-8-2-1 record (23 points) and is coming off a 5-2 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday night at home. Syracuse is lead by Patrick Maroon (team-high 21 points) and Kyle Palmieri, whose 13 goals are tied for second in the AHL.
The series marks the first meeting between the two squads this season, and also signifies the return of goaltender Timo Pielmeier to St. John’s for the first time since playing for the QMJHL’s St. John’s Fog Devils in 2007-08. Pielmeier was recalled by the Crunch on Nov. 27 but has not yet seen game action with the club.
Both games, and all 76 contests this season, can be heard live at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers. Pregame show kicks off at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck scheduled for 7:30.