GameDay Links: IceCaps host Bears

 

Bears (31-19-4-5) at IceCaps (35-15-5-2)

The Hershey Bears are in town this evening to face the IceCaps for the first time in, well, ever. Though they play in the same conference, these teams have yet to lock up this season. Hershey currently sits in 6th place in the East with 71 points — the IceCaps lead them by six points in the standings while also holding two games in hand.

Last month’s homestand for the IceCaps went beautifully as they reeled off five of six in St. John’s before leaving the island for nearly a month. They’ll want to keep their game sharp on Mile One ice as the playoffs approach, so this weekend’s pair of games are important.

Here are a few links from this past week to get you up to speed on both clubs:

Capitals return Holtby to Hershey (Yahoo Sports)

Bears scheduled to face IceCaps for first time (PennLive)

Bears defeat Binghamton Senators (Yahoo Sports)

Weekend Preview: IceCaps vs. Bears (StJohnsIceCaps.com)

IceCaps recall Carrozzi from Reign (StJohnsIceCaps.com)

IceCaps defeat Penguins, win 20th road game (Metro News – Canadian Press)

Puck drops at 7:30 Newfoundland time. Brian Rogers has the call on ThisIsNL and the game can be viewed on Rogers TV.

IceCaps and Monarchs looking for top spot this weekend

As far as important games go, this pair over the weekend is about as big as it gets at this point in the season. The Manchester Monarchs are in town to face the IceCaps, and the top spot in the Atlantic Division is up for grabs.

After returning from a quick road swing last weekend, the IceCaps are on home ice for their next six contests against some tough teams. Their first test will be the Monarchs, who hold the division lead right now with 44 points, the Caps only a point behind.

St. John`s are still holding on to the best winning percentage in the entire conference, however, with a .672. They’ve yet to hit double digits for regulation losses (8) and will look take over the Atlantic with a pair of wins over the weekend.

For Manchester, things have looked great, especially between the pipes where Jeff Zatkoff is 10-4-1 with a ridiculous .935 Sv%, good enough to land him Goaltender of the Month in December, along with an All-Star nod.

Up front the Monarchs are led by Marc Andre Cliche and Dwight King, with Kings’ prospects Linden Vey and Brendan Kozun chipping in as well. As far as offence is concerned, the Monarchs don’t boast much up front in terms of points. But scoring goals against them may turn out to be a bit of a task.

Hopefully the IceCaps can use the home town crowd for a boost and break these guys down early, or else Zatkoff could get red hot.

Game goes at 7:30 at Mile One (Newfoundland time, of course). Brian Rogers has the call at ThisIsNL

IceCaps and Marlies gear up for second meeting

theahl.com

With the high profile Toronto Marlies in town to face off against the IceCaps, this place has been abuzz for most of this past week. A lot of eyes were on Nazem Kadri heading into last night’s game, and how the IceCaps would deal with him – apparently not very well.

Kadri poured in four points to help lead the Marlies to an overtime win, assisting on Jeff Finger’s game winner at 4:31 into the extra frame to cap off a two-and-two night.

The IceCaps will look to contain him tonight, much like they did against Cory Conacher of the Admirals last week. In the second of the pair against Norfolk, the Caps used Garth Murray to agitate and effectively shut down Conacher after he gave St. John’s headaches the night before.

St. John’s will likely employ a similar gameplan tonight to deal with Kadri and the Marlies. If they allow him to stay hot, it could be a long night.

Luckily for Caps fans, they’ve yet to drop two straight yet this season, so the odds of a bounce-back are pretty solid.

Pasquale could get the start tonight with Mannino taking the loss on Friday. Mark Owuya nabbed the win for the Marlies, so we could see Jussii Rynnas take over between the pipes tonight.

Game goes at 7:30 at Mile One Centre and can be heard at http://thisisnewfoundlandlabrador.ca with Brian Rogers on play-by-play

Meet the new b’ys, same as the old b’ys

Editor’s note: Sorry for the brief hiatus. Life.

It’s been nearly 20 years since the AHL first took this city by storm with the inaugural season of the St. John’s Maple Leafs. That same season the Leafs went on to lose in the finals of the AHL playoffs marking the closest this city has even come to winning the Calder Cup. The Leafs era in St. John’s lasted 14 seasons and during that time we had managed to see our fair share of prospects turn into NHL regulars (and even a few stars) until the team left in 2005 and relocated to Toronto.

This weekend that team comes back to St John’s. Sure, the faces, names and personnel have all changed since the, but it will be a symbolic event at Mile One this weekend when the Toronto Marlies come to town.

Right now the Marlies sit atop the North division with 23 points, posting a 10-5-2 record. However, some big names who helped get the Marlies there will not be joining the team to St John’s this Friday as promising prospects Joe Colborne and Joey Crabb have been enjoying some time with the Marlies’ parent club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Colborne and Crabb are atop the roster in terms of points, with 19 and 15 respectively.

For Leafs fans across the island, some familiar faces tear into town on Friday night including some Leaf regulars from last season like Darryl Boyce, Keith Aulie, Mike Zigomanis, and everybody’s favourite Jeff Finger. But no doubt all eyes will be on the Leafs’ 2009 first round pick Nazem Kadri who has been slow to start the season, posting just one goal.

The IceCaps will be looking to continue their domination of the Atlantic Division this weekend. Realistically, looking at the standings, even a split will put up two big padding points. Their record currently sits at an outstanding 12-3-3 and they hold two games in hand on the Manchester Monarchs. The IceCaps will look to some character players for big time offense this weekend, with a few key roster guys like Jaffray and Kulda still playing with the parent club Jets.

Heading into this weekend’s games it shouldn’t be a big mystery who’s going to split the games between the pipes. Though Pasquale and Mannino are the safe bet, it remains to be seen if veteran netminder David Aebischer will earn another start in net after some disappointing outings in recent memory.

Goalies Mark Owuya and Jussi Rynnas should split starts over the weekend for the Marlies.

Like most home games, puck drop is at 7:30 PM NL time at Mile One Centre (both Friday and Saturday night). You can also catch the action by listening live over at theahl.com or thisisNL

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IceCaps look to keep winning on the road

Sharks and Sound Tigers, the last two matchups for the IceCaps on this current road swing

In what started off as a rough road trip for the IceCaps after dropping two straight overtime games, things have now turned themselves around to tell a different story.

During this road swing the Caps have yet to be defeated in regulation, and thanks to a pair of wins against the Worcester Sharks (also tonight’s opponent) and Connecticut Whale, the team has moved to 7-2-3 on the season. The IceCaps dropped the Whale 6-3 last night to move into first in the East.

Another win tonight would keep St. John’s right at the top of the heap, as they only trail Houston by two points for the league lead. Wrapping up this road trip with a strong outing tonight against the Sharks and tomorrow against Bridgeport could go a long way in keeping the rest of the division (and perhaps conference) chasing for a while.

After potting his seventh goal of the season last night, perhaps Carl Klingberg is set to run wild again – he’s been scoring in bunches so far this season. Out-shooting the opposition has been key to the IceCaps’ success, and if they continue to do so, Klingberg among others will continue to reap the benefits offensively.

The team has been raided by the Jets for defencemen in the past few days, with Festerling and Flood heading to the big league, along with Paul Postma (the team’s leading scorer) more recently. Jake Marto and Kyle Bushee have been recalled from the ECHL to fill the roster – how long they’ll be sticking around is up in the air.

Despite missing call-ups, the IceCaps look to have the depth to contend in this league. Right now they’ve nabbed six of a possible eight points on this trip, and a split in these last two would mark this six game outing as a major success.

Game time tonight is 8:30 Newfoundland time. Brian Rogers has the call online at thisisnewfoundlandlabrador.ca, and you can also follow the action and find official gamesheets at TheAHL.com

Enjoy

Game Day: IceCaps v. Sharks

Tonight will mark the first game between the IceCaps and their divisional opponent, Worcester Sharks.

The Sharks head into tonight’s matchup yet to be defeated in regulation, and with four games in hand on the IceCaps. With a powerplay that’s clicking at 26.7% (ranked 4th league-wide), it isn’t difficult to understand why they’ve managed ten of a possible 12 points so far this season.

On the other side of special teams, the Sharks have a penalty-kill that’s ranked 2nd in the AHL after killing off 89.3 percent of their penalties. This doesn’t exactly bode well for a team like the IceCaps, who are still at the basement of the league in terms of special teams play.

Notable players on the Worcester side are rookie Mike Connolly up front, and defencemen Sean Sullivan and Matt Irwin. Veteran pro Ben Guite also slots into the lineup.

Connolly is off to great start with ten points in six games, a year after putting up some impressive numbers in the NCAA hockey system. Sullivan provides some scoring from the back-end, notching 84 points over the past two seasons with the S.A. Rampage and Sharks.

Between the pipes, the Sharks have split duty between rookie tenders Tyson Sexsmith and Harri Sateri, both with goals-against averages under 2.00 (1.69 and 1.93, respectively.) Both have also posted a Sv% in the .930 range, so don’t expect anything easy for the Caps tonight.

Game goes at 8:30 Newfoundland time and can be heard online at http://thisisnewfoundlandlabrador.ca. Brian Rogers has the call for the IceCaps.

IceCaps Game Day: Arghhh! Here come the Pirates

The St. John’s IceCaps take to the ice tonight for a weeknight divisional match-up against the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes affiliate). Struggling (somewhat) out of the gate, the Pirates will be looking to pull their record to .500 as they currently sit at 2-3-0-1. It won’t be easy, as they’re missing arguably the best player from their lineup, Andy Miele, who was recalled to Phoenix over the weekend and will remain with the big club for now.

It’s quite obvious that this is a big game for the IceCaps. They’ll want to establish themselves early against these divisional clubs and hopefully keep a stranglehold on the Atlantic throughout the season.

A familiar face will be back in St. John’s tonight when Brock Trotter takes to the ice for the Pirates. IceCaps fans got a chance to see Trotter, a solid offensive player, when he suited up for the Hamilton Bulldogs on opening weekend. Since then, the Canadiens and Coyotes completed a trade that sent him to Portland and he’ll make his second trip to Newfoundland in as many weeks.

Beaudoin

Trotter is a player to watch out for, but winger Mathieu Beaudoin is also a premiere player for the Pirates. He’s notched 4 points in six games this season and led his team in scoring (51 points in 63 games played) last season as a member of the San Antonio Rampage, the previous affiliate of the Coyotes. Since then, the Pirates have changed hands from the Buffalo Sabres to become Phoenix’s farm club, while the Rochester Americans are now the Sabres’ affiliate. Musical chairs.

The IceCaps have been stingy when it comes to giving up goals. Right now they sit at 14GA through six games, but on the other side of the puck their powerplay continues to struggle. And by struggle, I mean, is basically non-existent. The team sits dead last in the league for powerplay efficiency with only one goal in 29 attempts with the man advantage. That’s 3.4%. Ugly.

The fact that they’ve managed such a great record (4-1-1-0) during this span is unbelievable. But if things don’t start to click soon, the losses will come.

Puck movement along the point has been a breeze, but the powerplay unit lacks punch down low. Even strength, they tend to use their speed to generate chances, as is evident with Carl Klingberg’s quick feet and huge goal total, but they really need to start burying chances in close on the PP. It won’t be easy against the Pirates, they’re 8th in the league right now, killing off 87% of their penalties. It’s early of course, but just don’t expect any favors from Portland in busting the PP slump.

The powerplay isn’t an area where the Pirates struggle either, they’ve been a respectful 21.9% on the year so far for 12th league-wide. The IceCaps will really have to bring their game tonight to get the two points.

Game goes at 7:30 Newfoundland time at Mile One Centre, and can be heard on the radio online at thisisnewfoundlandandlabrador.ca

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow the page on Twitter @SJ_IceCaps

IceCaps Game Day: Sound Tigers in town

Today’s Game Preview was put together by Charles Pickett, an IceCaps season ticket holder with a knack for breaking down the game. Follow him at Pickett2112 on Twitter for IceCaps news and opinion.

Game 5

The IceCaps return to action after a lengthy break in game play over the last week taking on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight at Mile One.

The Sound Tigers (New York Islanders’ affiliate) have been a bit sluggish out the gate this season, picking up only 4 out of a possible 10 points so far with both wins having come on the road. Meanwhile the IceCaps look to keep things rolling tonight after a 6-2 shellacking of the Hamilton Bulldogs last Saturday.

DiBenedetto

Bridgeport winger Justin DiBenedetto is going to be a player to watch tonight and could be a serious threat, scoring 5 goals in 5 games to start the season. The scouting report on DiBenedetto breaks him down as a defensive first player who can cycle the puck and eat away time in the offensive zone. He’s got a impressive shot selection and isn’t afraid to go to the messy areas either.

On the IceCaps side of things, look for Carl Klingberg to try and stay red-hot after an impressive outing last weekend, picking up the first hat trick in franchise history on Saturday night.

Last weekend we saw the IceCaps split goaltending duties between veteran netminder David Aebischer and Peter Mannino. I’d look for a similar situation this weekend, but possibly with Abbie taking the crease on Saturday night.

Mannino

Despite splitting the two games last weekend there are still some things the IceCaps had to go to work on this week, none more importantly than the powerplay. I can’t find anything online or in the papers to suggest that the IceCaps will sport a new look powerplay with possible personnel changes, or if they will use the same format to try and break the goose egg tonight. Last weekend they had their fair share of chances, but ran into a sharp goaltender.

A win tonight would give the IceCaps and edge over the Manchester Monarchs for the Atlantic Division lead. The Monarchs are currently tied with the IceCaps with 6 points on the season.

Puck drop tonight is at 7:30 and you can catch it all at Mile One Centre.

If you weren’t lucky enough to grab tickets you can watch tonight’s game on Rogers TV in the St John’s area or even Listen Live at theahl.com.

Follow Pickett2112 on Twitter

IceCaps drop home opener, gear up for second meeting

Apparently when it comes to home openers, the Jets and IceCaps share a common bond: losing by four.

It wasn’t exactly the way the team wanted to start things in St. John’s, but the effort was there as Bulldogs’ goalie Nathan Lawson had to turn away 40 shots to shut out the Caps in Friday night’s game. Paul DeSimone potted two goals, Brock Trotter had 3 assists, and the Bulldogs took home their second game of the season, improving to 2-0-0.

Aebischer was shaky for the Caps, and we have to wonder whether he’ll see the net tonight. Mannino will likely take over.

Of course the biggest difference tonight has to be special teams. The IceCaps powerplay went an atrocious 0-8 last night while allowing the Bulldogs to go 3-4 (yes, 75 PERCENT) with the man-advantage. Not to worry though; these things have a way of sorting themselves out and we should see things start to click at least a little in the next while.

As Charles Pickett points out, there’s a share of blame to go around for last night’s 4-0 loss;

As for Aebischer, he wasn’t steady and found himself under the bus. The Bulldogs found a play they liked, stuffing it between pad/post from behind the net and then just crashed it for a rebound. Aebischer’s positioning wasn’t the best either, but his defenders got shaky with the puck in their own zone during the 2nd and 3rd. Each pass was like a grenade: I found guys were just launching it to get rid of it. My opinion on last night is that Aebie is going to end up under the bus in the eyes of the fans, and will need a bounceback game, but last night’s PP should shoulder it’s fair share of the blame as well.

Great game analysis for sure. Hopefully these are areas the IceCaps will address as soon as possible so that the St. John’s faithful can be rewarded for all the buzz they’ve created this weekend.

Tonight’s game goes at 7:30 Newfoundland Time and will be featured on Roger’s TV locally. Enjoy!

Here are a couple more columns discussing last night’s game:

IceCaps dogged in home opener (Brendan McCarthy at The Telegram)

Bulldogs melt IceCaps in 4-0 victory (HamiltonBulldogs.com)

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Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow here and here

IceCaps Game Day: Home Opener

It’s back.

For the first time since 2005, the city of St. John’s will enjoy cheering on their AHL home team at Mile One Centre tonight when the IceCaps host the Hamilton Bulldogs. The buzz throughout the city is absolutely overwhelming, as is the rush for tickets.

President of the American Hockey League, Dave Andrews, will be in the building, as well as some other special guests.

The IceCaps sport a 2-0-0 record heading into tonight’s tilt, after nabbing two victories on the road last weekend in Providence and Manchester, respectively.

Brock Trotter

The Bulldogs have yet to lose as well, playing one game – a 5-2 win against Rochester last Saturday in which Brock Trotter went two and two for a four point night. Trotter is one to look out for against Hamilton. After posting 77 points last year, he’s only scratching the surface at 24 years of age. Veteran Brian Willsie, a new addition from Hershey, will also be another forward to look out for.

Hamilton are no joke, winning their division last season with 44 wins and 97 points overall, before being bounced by the Houston Aeros in seven games in the Conference Final. The IceCaps are in for a test, and it’ll be up to them to put the focus on the ice and not in the stands as the building will be on wheels.

Last weekend saw two strong performances from goalies David Aebischer and Peter Mannino with the Caps. My money would be on Aebie going between the pipes tonight, considering he’s a veteran that should be able to easily handle the atmosphere.

Game goes at 7:30 Newfoundland Time, and will be broadcast locally on Rogers TV. Here are a few more links discussing tonight’s matchup and what it means for the city. Enjoy the game!

LIVE Blog for IceCaps debut (CBC)

IceCaps home opener tonight (The Independent)

A game unlike any other, but like every other (The Telegram)

IceCaps set to play first St. John’s game (CBC)

IceCaps debut will feature ‘Ode’ and new (The Telegram)

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow on twitter here and here