Weekend Preview: IceCaps at Marlies
The St. John’s IceCaps and Toronto Marlies renew hostilities this weekend when the teams play a two-game series at Ricoh Coliseum as the calendar turns to 2012.
The IceCaps are riding a two-game winning streak and have won three-of-four overall dating back to Dec. 16. Wednesday night, David Aebischer came up with his best performance of the season in a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum. Aebischer turned aside 39 shots for his seventh win of the season, while Jason Jaffray, Kevin Clark, and Eric O’Dell scored goals just 2:12 apart at the start of the third period to lift the IceCaps to their 11th road win of the season. St. John’s is the only AHL team to remain unbeaten in regulation time on the road, sporting an 11-0-2-1 record.
The IceCaps reclaimed first place over the Manchester Monarchs in the Atlantic Division with the win, and sit just one point behind the Hershey Bears for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The return of captain Jason Jaffray paid immediate dividends for the IceCaps. Having spent time with the IceCaps’ NHL affiliate in Winnipeg, Jaffray was reassigned to St. John’s during the Christmas break and made his return Wednesday, scoring his eighth goal of the season. Jaffray’s presence in the lineup should offset the loss of Patrice Cormier, who was summoned to the big club prior to the game in Hamilton. After a slow start, Cormier caught fire in the month of December, recording six goals and eight points in nine games before getting the call.
The recent returns of Jaffray, Brett Festerling and Carl Klingberg have given the IceCaps their most complete lineup since the start of the season. Cormier and defencemen Mark Flood are the only two members of the IceCaps opening night roster currently on assignment in Winnipeg. Meanwhile, on the injury front, forwards Shawn Weller and Riley Holzapfel remain sidelined with injuries and will miss the weekend series.
Timely scoring continues to be a strength for St. John’s, which has outscored its opponents 53-30 on the road. Paul Postma has had the hot hand over the past month and is in the midst of a nine-game point-scoring streak, one that began on Dec. 4 in Toronto. The offensive rearguard has 13 points during that span and has vaulted himself into third in league scoring at the position, just three points off the lead.
Meanwhile, the Marlies are losers of two straight, including a hard-fought 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday. The Marlies lost despite allowing just 11 shots on goal, and are now just one point up on the Rochester Americans for first place in the North Division.
Toronto leads the season series 2-1, with the home team losing each time. On Nov. 25, Jeff Finger netted the overtime winner in a 4-3 Marlies triumph, while Toronto rode a three-point effort from captain Ryan Hamilton to double-up the IceCaps 6-3 the next night. Most recently, the IceCaps defeated the Marlies 4-2 on Dec. 4 at Ricoh Coliseum. Marco Rosa had three points and Aebischer stopped 20-of-22 shots in the win.
This weekend’s games can be heard live at www.stjohnsicecaps.com or on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Brian Rogers has the call, with the drop of the puck set for 4:30 p.m. Pregame show begins at 4:00 p.m. (all time Newfoundland).