Weekend Preview: IceCaps vs. Monarchs
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps welcome the Manchester Monarchs for the second series this season at Mile One Centre between the divisional rivals.
The IceCaps have won three-of-four on their current six-game home stand including a 6-0 shellacking of a depleted Hamilton Bulldogs squad Wednesday night. Spencer Machacek notched his first professional hat trick, scoring twice on the power play within a 3:07 span in the second period. Jason Jaffray had three assists, and Eddie Pasquale needed to make just 12 saves for his third shutout of the season.
Machacek has been perhaps the most consistent IceCaps’ forward this season, recording at least seven points in all but one month this season (he tallied five in February but missed three games while on recall to Winnipeg). The IceCaps leading scorer (17g, 31a) is on pace for a career-high 60 points, which would surpass his previous high of 53 set last year while playing for the Chicago Wolves.
A winner of five of his last six starts, Pasquale is enjoying his best stretch of the season. Since the beginning of March, the Toronto native has posted a 5-1-0 record with a 1.65 goals-against average and a 0.931 save percentage. The rookie netminder has seen his goals-against average drop each month since the start of the season.
The IceCaps are 5-1-0-1 this month and have inched closer to securing their first-ever playoff berth. Heading into Saturday’s action, the IceCaps need just 10 points in their final 15 games to guarantee themselves a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
The Monarchs, meanwhile, are in a dogfight for one of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Currently sitting seventh in the conference, Manchester is one of eight teams jockeying for playoff position (just four points separate seventh from 14th).
The Monarchs are coming off a tough loss to the Connecticut Whale last Sunday, dropping a 5-3 decision at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
Despite a perfect 5-0-0-0 record against Manchester this season, the IceCaps have only outscored the Monarchs by a 14-9 margin. Three of the five contests have been decided by one goal.
The last time the Monarchs visited, the IceCaps swept the two-game series back in early January. David Aebischer, currently nursing a minor injury, started and won both games, stopping 37-of-41 shots in the victories.
After the weekend series, the two clubs will meet once more in Manchester on April 15, the final day of the regular season.
The IceCaps will sport special green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys Saturday night as part of the team’s “Shirts Off Our Backs” promotion. Fans have been eligible to win a jersey straight from an IceCaps player in each of the last six home games, and the final jerseys will be drawn for during Saturday’s game. All winners will be presented with their jerseys at the conclusion of the game.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:00 p.m. Sunday, with the pregame shows beginning a half hour earlier.