Whale of a Weekend: IceCaps go undefeated against Connecticut

After a quick turnaround from Saturday night’s throttling of the Connecticut Whale, the St. John’s IceCaps took to the ice at Mile One this afternoon for their first early start on home ice this season.

The Caps started off rather sluggish in the first period and remained trapped in their own zone for much of it.

Going into this afternoon’s game I expected the absence of Artus Kulda to have a big impact, however both Travis Ramsey and Zach Redmon logged some serious ice-time and played great games. Both players made their minutes count and played an impressive physical game.

After doing some running around in their own zone, the puck found John Mitchell in the slot who made no mistake and buried it. Mitchell picked up right where he left off last night, putting up his 3rd goal in 2 games.

The Whale followed Mitchell’s goal with a goal by Tommy gran,t making it a 2-0 game.It looked like they were getting ready to run away with the game until Stu Bickel went off on a tripping call. The ensuing powerplay for the IceCaps resulted in a goal from an unlikely source; Bushee posted his first goal of the season getting the IceCaps within one.

After the Bushee goal the IceCaps looked like they got their legs back from last night, but on the next shift Whale forward Carl Hagelin put the puck in the net in a rather unconventional way. Hagelin, who had been going to the net hard all weekend, was rewarded with a goal that he deflected in off his face, paying the ultimate price for that insurance marker. And just like that it was a 3-1 game again.

Shortly after the Hagelin goal, the Whale broke what I always believe is the cardinal rule when it comes to fighting in hockey, and mixed it up with a two goal lead. Bickel stirred things wwith IceCaps defensemen Travis Ramsey after going to Mannino hard. Ramsey said he’ll basically have none of that and they had an exchange. Even though Ramsey got the worst of the altercation, the IceCaps came out flying that next shift and not long after were rewarded a late period goal from the stick of vet Jason King. King’s 6th goal of the season came off of a feed from Rosa with just 50 seconds left of the first period

The IceCaps started the 2nd period a much more focused group and had to rely on the penalty kill early on as Travis Ramsey went off for tripping. As inconsistent as the IceCaps PP has been at times, the PK totally owns up for it and did a great job killing that one off. Quickly after the PK ended, IceCaps’ forward Jason King potted his 7th of the season and 2nd of the game, tying the gam. After the King goal the IceCaps had a few chances on the PP but couldn’t get the go ahead goal out of it. The Whale PK not only did a great job, they also exposed one of the weaknesses in the IceCaps’ powerplay, picking off a few D-to-D passes and skating it in for a solid chance, none of which resulted in a goal thankfully.

In the 3rd period IceCaps relied heavily on goaltender Peter Mannino. Making his first start since returning to St John’s after a brief call up to the Winnipeg Jets, Mannino was under fire for much of the game, but did a great job keeping them in it when the Whale put up scoring chance after scoring chance. Just when fans were eyeing the clock and thinking overtime, Garth Murray found Eric O’Dell for his 2nd of the season giving the IceCaps their first lead in the game with just 3 minutes remaining on the clock.

The Whale had one last chance on the PP to end the game as Zach Redmon, who played a great physical game this afternoon, found himself in the sin bin for cross checking. The Whale PP got a few chances on IceCaps netminder Mannino, and went hard to the net the whole time, but were denied. With a handful of seconds left Mannino made an innocent enough play tying up a player but refs ruled it interference. With only 4 seconds left on the clock, the Whale attempt hardly seems worth mentioning, and the IceCaps closed out the weekend out picking up wins in both games.

One interesting thing I picked up on tonight’s game was the ability that the Whale team had putting shots on net, and by my count it is the first game the IceCaps have been outshot on home ice. The final countcame in at 38 shots for the Whale and 27 for the IceCaps, but goaltender Mannino did a great job keeping his team in it just long enough for those late 3rd period heroics.

Another thing worth noting is that even though there was a noticeable increase in empty seats, this marked the eigth consecutive sell out of the season for the IceCaps. Great to see.

The IceCaps have a lengthy break before facing the Norfolk Admirals on Friday and it’s yet to be seen if some of the current call ups with the Jets will be returned by then.

As always you can catch the game online at theahl.com or at the St John’s Icecaps official site.

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Aebischer falters, but IceCaps wrap up successful road trip

Ten of a possible 12 points. Tough to ask for any better than that for the IceCaps, who will return home after a six game road trip which wrapped up in Bridgeport this evening.

The IceCaps used a pair of wins against the Worcester Sharks (last night) and Sound Tigers to finish the trip with a 4-0-2 record, and in doing so, pushed themselves to the top of the league once again with 21 points. The Houston Aeros, with 19, will face the Toronto Marlies this evening as well.

Edward Pasquale was forced to enter the game tonight after a shaky performance from David Aebischer (3 goals on 13 shots) early in the second period. Pasquale held things down between the pipes, stopping 12 of 12, and nabbing the 4-3 win – his fifth of the season. In fact, Pasquale has yet to lose and is currently riding a .935 Sv% and 1.75 goals-against average, leading a lot of folks to question whether keeping Aebischer around is the right move.

Marco Rosa and Captain Jason Jaffray had solid outings this evening as well, both collecting two points apiece. Rosa had a goal and an assist while Jaffray nabbed two apples. Chiarot, Holzapfel and DeSantis scored the other goals for the IceCaps.

Looking at the IceCaps’ stats, Rosa has taken the team lead in points with eleven in 14 games, while Klingberg, Holzapfel, Jaffray and Machacek each have nine.

The IceCaps now move on to face the Connecticut Whale on home ice next weekend. The Whale have been right at their heels in terms of the East Standings, so to say next weekends’ pair of games are important is an understatement. Look for plenty of talk surrounding the team this week, but also a fair amount of questions surrounding Aebischer and where he fits in to the whole scheme.

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

IceCaps down Sharks, move to top of AHL

The St. John’s IceCaps used a pair of goals by Kevin Clark to help take out the Worcester Sharks with a 6-3 win on Tuesday night, and in doing so, took a leap to tie for the league lead in points with fifteen. Only two other teams, the Norfolk Admirals and Houston Aeros, can boast the same point total so far (both have a game in hand on the IceCaps.)

Edward Pasquale nabbed the win between the pipes for the Caps, while Harri Sateri took the loss for the Sharks. Pasquale turned away 30 of 33 shots for his second win in as many tries.

Powerplay woes didn’t sting the IceCaps in this game, as they went a respectable 2 for 5 (or 20%) on the night. King and Gagnon notched the powerplay markers early in the first frame.

Three IceCaps managed a two-point game: Clark with two goals, and Albert and Flood with two apples apiece. For the official gamesheet, click here.

The IceCaps’ next game is on Friday evening against the Connecticut Whale, before they wrap up this road trip over the weekend with games against the Sharks (again) and Sound-Tigers.

Pirates down IceCaps 5-2 to split pair

McElhinney

After a whale of a victory last night for the IceCaps, the Portland Pirates responded tonight with a 5-2 win of their own at Mile One Centre. Portland goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped 40 shots in the win. Contributing tonight’s game recap is one of my best friends and certainly my Twitter sparring partner, Charles Pickett (@Pickett2112) – season ticket holder, and somebody you should definitely follow for live game coverage:

Game 7 – Splitsville

The St. John’s IceCaps knew they needed to keep the momentum going into tonight’s game in order to come out on top and pick up 2 big insurance points within the Atlantic Division.

Despite a brief sluggish start out the gate, the IceCaps did well keeping that intensity up but found themselves down 1-0 to the Pirates after the first period after Ashton (not to be confused with Aaron) Rome sends one behind Mannino late in the period.

Heading into the 2nd, we saw a different IceCaps team take the ice. After some serious cycle time it looked as if the IceCaps were in the drivers seat. Just a handful of minutes in, AHL vet Shawn Weller was rewarded with his first goal of the season putting one up on the powerplay and tying things at 1-1. Less than 8 minutes later St John’s center and Newfoundland’s own Jason King also found the back of the net with his 5th goal of the season.

The IceCaps had a great chance to keep the pedal down on the Pirates immediately after the King goal midway through the 2nd with two chances on the PP, when the Portland defender Arsene took a tripping call. The PP looked re-charged tonight and got off to a quick start with the goal by Weller, but late in the 2nd they couldn’t get things clicking again. It looks like the IceCaps are trying to change the PP system and there have even been some new line combos with Clark getting some time with Jaffray and King on the top line, but once again, they still really couldn’t get much going on the PP tonight, going 1/7.

The Pirates quickly turned things around to start the 3rd period off of a quick play by Pouliot. Later in the period a jam play from Mathieu Beaudoin gave Portland their first lead since the 1sr period putting them up 3-2.

After the Beaudoin play, the IceCaps got into penalty trouble. Despite how strong the PK has looked so far this young season, Kyle Chipchura  made no mistake about it putting Portland up 4-2. Portland would go on to add an empty netter to make the final score 5-2.

A loss is never quite easy to get over, and with a lengthy road trip looming for the IceCaps, there are still several tweaks to be made. But overall their game is a pretty solid, straight forward one. Their cycle down low tonight was very strong and once again they peppered the opposition with over 40 shots.

Throughout the game there were a lot of chances that went by the wayside, including a partial break away by new fan favorite Carl Klingberg. He didn’t bury it, but drew a penalty on the play after getting the slash. Also somewhere in there Mark Flood rang one off the post.

By taking a glass-half-full mentality, a quick glance at the standings should tell us that this one loss should not be a cause for concern.

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

IceCaps get powerplay on track, slam Pirates

IceCaps v. Pirates

Edward Pasquale made his IceCaps debut between the pipes Tuesday night in front of a packed Mile One Centre, and didn’t disappoint. The home team used a second period flurry and a couple of powerplay markers to nab a 5-1 victory, and moved to a 5-1-1 record overall.

A pair of powerplay markers from Riley Holzapfel and Jason King in the second frame moved the IceCaps powerplay ranking, well, absolutely nowhere. They’re still dead last in the league in that department at only 7.5% efficiency, but tonight was perhaps what the team needed to finally get clicking with the man advantage going forward.

I had the opportunity to take the game in from the press box tonight. While keeping a close eye on the powerplay, it was noticeable that the IceCaps are still employing the strategy of finding defencemen for the open point shot and diving on rebounds. They’re passing down low could still use some work, but it’s certainly getting better.

The Pirates, on the other hand, move the puck to the wings much better and stay away from the cross-blueline pass as much as possible while on the powerplay.

This was a tough game for both teams in terms of penalty trouble. The Pirates were sent to the box 11 times, while the IceCaps went off for seven. The first period of this game lacked any flow, and the Pirates capitalized on some early powerplays to grab the 1-0 lead.

The second period was a totally different story. The IceCaps’ players got their legs under them and began to showcase their speed a little more, and John Albert scored his first ever goal at the professional level just four minutes into the frame to notch things at 1-1.

As the game began to open up, the IceCaps drew a few penalties themselves and capitalized to take a 3-1 lead into the third. Both powerplay goals came off rebounds in tight, blatantly what the IceCaps were looking for.

In the third, Brian Festerling notched his first goal of the season early on to put this game to bed. Travis Ramsey later added his first as well, and Pasquale made a few good saves down the stretch to keep things at 5-1 and give himself a .965 Sv% on the night. Impressive.

Shots during the game favored the IceCaps 41-29 in total.

Game two of this mid-week set goes tomorrow night at Mile One. I’ll have the Game Day preview up tomorrow and will be up in the press box once again to cover the action. Follow the blog on twitter for in-game updates and analysis.

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow on twitter

Klingberg nets three, IceCaps throttle Bulldogs

sjicecaps.com

Carl Klingberg scored a hat-trick, John Albert picked up three assists, and Jason King scored his first goal in a 6-2 IceCaps win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday night. The offensive outburst vaulted Klingberg into the top of the AHL scoring race, though it’s obviously very early. The young Swede shot 100% last night to nab the hatty on only three shots. Impressive.

Special teams were a sore spot for the Caps again, going 0-7 on the powerplay to follow a 0-8 outing the night before. It’s obviously an area they’ll look to improve on, but six even-strength goals was enough to get the job done as the team moves to 3-1-0 on the season.

The IceCaps displayed a high level of team speed last night, and I was particularly impressed by how well they moved the puck at the point. If they can get their game together down low in the offensive zone, they should be able to start banging pucks in on the powerplay.

Patrice Cormier had a solid outing for the IceCaps. After being on the receiving end of a couple questionable hits early in the game, he bounced back with an assist and some big hits to boot later on. It’s also quite obvious that despite failing to notch a point this weekend, Paul Postma is the premier blue-liner on this club. Nobody shows as much confidence with the puck, and I’m sure the Jets will love to hear that.

The IceCaps are back in action on home ice next weekend when they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday and Saturday night, followed by weeknight games against Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team will then pack their bags and go on the road for a little over a week.

Shots last night were 41-22 IceCaps, and Mannino nabbed his second win in as many tries between the pipes. Nathan Lawson took the loss for the Bulldogs.

**Notes: Marc Crawford was in attendance for the game last night, as it was “IceCapsules” night in honor of his AHL Coach of the Year Award in 1992 with the Baby Leafs… The fans were unreal, especially in the third period (I was glad to be part of that wave)

Email ryanfancey@gmail.com and follow here and here