Preview: IceCaps vs. Marlies
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps and Toronto Marlies renew hostilities tonight when they clash at Mile One Centre for the start of a two-game series.
The IceCaps are fresh off a two-game sweep of the Manchester Monarchs this past weekend, moving three points ahead of Manchester on top of the Atlantic Division standings. Shawn Weller scored a pair of goals in his return to the lineup Friday, after missing 10 games due to injury, in a 4-2 St. John’s win. Saturday, John Albert potted the game-winner with less than a minute to go in regulation to give the IceCaps a 3-2 victory.
The IceCaps are expected to ride the hot hand of veteran netminder David Aebischer. The Switzerland native is 8-0-1 in his last nine starts with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, with one shutout. The IceCaps have come away with wins in each of Aebischer’s last four starts, dating back to a 39-save effort in Hamilton on Dec. 28.
Defenceman Paul Postma, who had his 10-game point streak snapped on Jan. 1, has picked up right where he left off. The offensive rearguard recorded assists in both games last weekend and now shares the team scoring lead with forward Marco Rosa. The offensive blueliner was selected to his second straight AHL All-Star Classic, joining teammate Zach Redmond and coach Keith McCambridge as IceCaps representatives in Atlantic City.
The Marlies, meanwhile, sit in first place in the Western Conference’s North Division and are coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of division-rival Hamilton. Like St. John’s, Toronto has been the beneficiary of some brilliant play between the pipes as of late. Jussi Rynnas has recorded two straight shutouts, including a blanking of the league-leading Oklahoma City Barons on Jan. 6. In his last four starts dating back to Dec. 17, Rynnas has stopped 112-of-114 shots for a .982 save percentage.
The IceCaps and Marlies have met five times already this season, with the Marlies holding a 3-1-0-1 edge. Toronto swept a two-game set at Mile One back in November, with the now-recalled Nazem Kadri supplying much of the firepower. The IceCaps won the next meeting 4-2 at Ricoh Coliseum on Dec. 4, on the strength of a three-point effort from Rosa. Most recently, the two squads split a two-game series in Toronto. St. John’s recorded its first shootout victory in team history Dec. 31 in a 4-3 win, while the Marlies snapped the IceCaps 15-game road point streak in a 3-1 triumph New Year’s Day.
Catch all the action with Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 7:30 (all times Newfoundland).