Weekend Preview: IceCaps vs. Senators
By Chris Doyle
St. John’s and Binghamton meet for the first time this season when the Senators take on the IceCaps Saturday and Sunday at Mile One Centre.
The IceCaps come into the weekend series with a chance to end their six-game home stand in style. Having won three-of-four so far, St. John’s will look to extend its lead atop the Eastern Conference against the last place Senators.
After splitting last weekend’s series versus the tough Worcester Sharks, the IceCaps rebounded with a pair of victories over the Providence Bruins Tuesday and Wednesday. Eddie Pasquale was the hero Tuesday night, stopping 29 shots for his second shutout of the season in 2-0 win. Wednesday, Pasquale was sharp again, making 36 saves in a dramatic 2-1 overtime win. Jason DeSantis blasted home the game-winner on a power play 2:26 into the extra frame.
St. John’s has won seven of its last eight games in large part due to the efforts of Pasquale. The 21-year-old goaltender has registered wins in his last five starts, including a pair of shutouts, dropping his goals-against average to 2.57.
The IceCaps continue to play without a full complement of players. Forwards Jason Jaffray, John Albert, Patrice Cormier and Jason Gregoire all missed the series against Providence and their statuses are uncertain heading into the weekend. Defenceman Derek Meech and forward Marco Rosa remain sidelined indefinitely with lower and upper body injuries, respectively.
The Senators, last year’s Calder Cup champions, have had a disappointing season to date. The team ranks last in the Eastern Conference with 43 points and has dropped two straight games including a 5-2 loss to the Portland Pirates last Saturday.
In particular, the Senators have had trouble keeping the opposition off the board. Their 3.15 team goals-against average is 27th of 30 teams, and they have allowed a league-high 35.23 shots per game.
After posting a 14-4 record with a 2.10 goals-against average and 0.939 save percentage in last season’s Calder Cup playoffs, netminder Robin Lehner has struggled to a 7-14-1 mark this season with a 3.27 goals-against average, but has posted a respectable 0.907 save percentage.
After the two-game series this weekend, the two teams will meet in Binghamton on Feb. 28 and again on Mar. 4 as part of a seven-game road trip for the IceCaps.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. while Sunday’s contest is set for 4:00 p.m. (all times Newfoundland). Pregame show begins a half hour before puck drop.