Weekend Preview: IceCaps vs. Marlies
It’ll be past versus present at Mile One Centre this weekend, as the St. John’s IceCaps clash with the Toronto Marlies Friday and Saturday.
The games mark the return of the former St. John’sMaple Leafs toNewfoundlandfor the first time since leaving the province following the 2004-05 season and landing in Toronto to become the Marlies.
After six seasons without professional hockey (the QMJHL’s Fog Devils occupied Mile One for three years),St. John’shas welcomed the IceCaps with open arms, and the results have been staggering so far. The IceCaps have stormed out of the gate with a 12-3-3-0 record for 27 points, good for first place in the Eastern Conference and a tie with the Abbotsford Heat for the best record in the AHL. The IceCaps have also received tremendous support at the gates, selling out all 10 home games to date and drawing more than 6,300 fans per game, sixth in the entire league.
St. John’s is coming off a tough split with the Norfolk Admirals last weekend. After a 6-2 loss Friday, the IceCaps responded with a solid 3-1 victory Saturday night. Spencer Machacek scored the game-winner, Garth Murray netted his first goal of the season, and goalie Peter Mannino recorded his fourth win after turning aside 35-of-36 shots, including 18 in the third period.
Rookie forward Carl Klingberg has been a revelation forSt. John’s. After scoring just six goals in 58 games last season in three different leagues, Klingberg has potted nine goals in 18 games for the IceCaps, tied for third among AHL rookies. He has been a factor on the penalty kill as well, twice scoring with his team down a man, including a beautiful goal Friday night when he deked Norfolk goalie Jaroslav Janus on a short-handed breakaway.
Meanwhile, the Marlies have been hit hard by injuries and call-ups, but still find themselves in first place in the Western Conference’s North Division with a 10-5-2-1 record (23 points). The Marlies have sent reinforcements to their parent club, the Maple Leafs, including leading scorer Joe Colbourne, winger Joey Crabb and netminder Ben Scrivens. At the time of his promotion, Colbourne was in the midst of a breakout season, leading the AHL in points with 19 (10g, 9a). All three players have made an impact in the Maple Leafs lineup, and should stick with the big club for the foreseeable future while the team waits for its wounded to heal.
Goaltender Mark Owuya has been stellar between the pipes forTorontosince his recent promotion from the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Owuya has not allowed more than two goals in any of his five starts and has gone 3-1-1 in that span.
The IceCaps sport a 6-3-1-0 record at home and have won three-of-four at Mile One Centre during the current six-game homestand. The Marlies, despite remaining unbeaten in regulation at home, are just 4-5-1-1 on the road this season.
Catch all the action with play-by-play man Brian Rogers on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador and online at www.stjohnsicecaps.com. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 7:30.