Weekend Preview: IceCaps vs. Bears
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps meet the Hershey Bears for the first time in team history this Friday and Saturday at Mile One Centre.
The IceCaps (35-15-5-2) return home after a lengthy road swing that saw them go 3-3-0-1, good enough to extend their lead atop the Atlantic Division to a season-high 16 points.
After dropping three-of-four to start the trip, St. John’s won its last two contests by convincing 5-2 margins. Last Saturday, the IceCaps entered the third period tied at two but got goals just 58 seconds apart early in the third period, when Paul Postma and Patrice Cormier both scored on the power play.
Tuesday, the IceCaps visited the Penguins and got off to a blazing start, torching Scott Munroe for three goals on three shots in the opening frame. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton closed the gap to 3-2, but St. John’s scored twice in the third period – including a shorthanded marker by Arturs Kulda – to come away with the victory.
The power play unit has been firing on all cylinders as of late. In its last three contests St. John’s is 7-for-14 with the man advantage, climbing to third overall in the AHL (21.5%). Jason DeSantis’ seven power play tallies are tied for second amongst AHL blueliners, while Postma’s six are tied for third most. DeSantis’ 24 points with the extra man are also good for second in the league.
Likely dressing for the IceCaps as the backup goaltender will be Chris Carrozzi, who was recalled from the Ontario Reign Thursday. The 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets prospect is in the midst of a fantastic season with the ECHL’s Reign, sporting a 16-6-4 record with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 28 games. The Nepean, Ontario native will replace David Aebischer, who is considered day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
The Bears have won two straight after dropping their previous five games. Last Saturday, Braden Holtby stopped 17 shots for a 3-0 shutout of the Binghamton Senators. The following day, Ryan Potulny scored his 22nd of the season just 22 seconds into overtime to give the Bears a 2-1 win over the Springfield Falcons.
Hershey boasts the AHL’s two leading scorers in forwards Chris Bourque and Keith Aucoin, as well as the seventh leading scorer in Jacob Micflikier. Bourque has notched 78 points (25g, 53a) in 58 games; Aucoin has 70 points (11g, 59a) in just 43 contests before being recalled by the Washington Capitals. Micflikier, meanwhile, has potted 13 power play goals, good for a share of the AHL lead.
In addition to their two meetings this weekend, the IceCaps and Bears play twice more later this month in Hershey.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 7:30 p.m. (all times Newfoundland).