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IceCaps Preview: Three critical games this week for St. John's

The IceCaps are winding down their six-game road trip in three different cities.

St. John's IceCaps / Jeff Parsons

The latest road trip has started, and will end, in Syracuse's War Memorial Arena. This will be the fourth time the IceCaps will face the Syracuse Crunch in the month of February. The trip started well with a win against the Crunch, but they couldn't get a victory against the weekend series against the last place Binghamton Senators, losing 2-1 and 4-1 respectively.

Up next: Albany Devils, February 24

Last time they met: January 22 (4-2 Win) & 23rd (2-1 Win)

The last time the St. John's IceCaps faced the Albany Devils, they came out with back-to-back wins.

Friday night featured a lackluster opening period performance by the IceCaps, being outshot 9-0 during the first half of the period. By the second period, however, they came back ready for a fight .

Morgan Ellis turned up the energy level when he sniped a rocket from the point to tie the game. Twenty seconds later, the Devils snuck one past Fucale. Just a few seconds after that, Nikita Scherbak evened the score. Sven Andrighetto notched a goal with a puck deflection off his skate and Charles Hudon found the back of the net from a shot off the face-off.

Zach Fucale stood tall, earning second star by stopping 24 of 26 shots.

The following night, the IceCaps doubled the Devils thanks to Eddie Pasquale kicking out 32 of 33 shots, and Gabriel Dumont and Andrighetto finding the back of the net . The first line of Lucas Lessio, Michael McCarron and Scherbak impressed with numerous odd-man rushes, but the Devils' netminder, Scott Wedgewood continued to deny access.

The Devils fought hard to tie the series but the IceCaps held their ground to sweep the series.
Up next: Utica Comets, February 26th

Last time they met: February 5 (5-2 Loss) and 6 (3-2 Loss)

The IceCaps were on a three-game losing streak the last time they faced the Comets, and their streak got extended to five by the time the weekend was over.

Not only were the IceCaps sporting the Royal Canadian tribute jerseys on Friday night, GM Marc Bergevin was on hand to scope out his farm team. Perhaps it was the pressure of having the big guy in the stadium, but the game started off on the wrong foot and continued into the abyss.

It all started when Fucale let in three goals on four shots in just the over five minutes into the game. Pasquale was sent in for relief and managed to stop 26 of the 28 shots he faced. Bud Holloway and Jacob de la Rose notched a goal each for the home team, but the IceCaps couldn't dig themselves out of the early setback.

Saturday night wasn't much kinder to the IceCaps. With just 1:28 left in regulation, it looked as if the IceCaps were going to redeem themselves after the previous night's disaster.

Dumont's goal and assist, plus de la Rose's back-to-back scoring gave them the lead but the Comets were having none of it. Not only did they force the game into overtime, they shut it down just five seconds in when Brendan Gaunce slipped one past Pasquale for the win.

Up next: Syracuse Crunch, February 27

Last time they met: February 17 (3-2 Win)

During the month of February, the IceCaps have been showing the Crunch who's boss, winning three of their last four matches.

John Scott gave a third star performance as he potted his first goal as an IceCap. McCarron tied the game with just 2:34 left in regulation with a power play marker, and when the game extended to a five-round shootout, he stepped up again to secure his team the win.

Rookie netminder Zach Fucale was the talk of the town, being undefeated in his last four starts and named CCM/AHL player of the week.

The IceCaps are hanging onto a playoff spot as they sit in fourth place of the North Division with 56 points. The  Syracuse Crunch are two spots behind with 51 points. On the flip side, the Utica Comets are just a hair ahead of the IceCaps at number three with 58 points with the Albany Devils sitting comfortably in second place in the division with 67 points.

It should suffice to say that the next few games are very important for the Canadiens' AHL affiliate.