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IceCaps Weekend Preview: St. John's faces two division rivals in three-game set

The IceCaps hit the road for a three-game series this weekend.

St. John's IceCaps / jpphotographynl.com

The St. John's IceCaps are hitting the road this weekend to play three games in as many days.

First up, they head to New York to take on the Rochester Americans, where the IceCaps look to keep their winning streak against the Amerks alive.

(St. John's IceCaps/Jeff Parsons) Michael Mike McCarron Rochester Americans St. John's IceCaps/Jeff Parsons
Photo credit: St. John's IceCaps / jpphotographynl.com

The Americans last faced St. John's during the kickoff of the 2015-16 season at the IceCaps' opening weekend on October 16 and 17. With two wins — thanks to 11 goals — the IceCaps started the season with a bang, sweeping the two-game series, 5-2 and 6-2, respectively.

Christian Thomas and Sven Andrighetto each notched a pair of goals in the opening game, Bud Holloway chipped in with a goal and two assists, while Morgan Ellis and Charles Hudon each picked up one assist. Backstopping the IceCaps to victory, goaltender Zachary Fucale stopped 31 of 33 shots in his pro debut.

The following night went even better for the IceCaps. Thomas scored for the second straight game and added two assists while Joel Hanley added a goal and an assist. Bud Holloway and Charles Hudon each registered two helpers. Michael McCarron stole the spotlight and first star honors when he scored his first pro goal and added two more for a hat trick. Dustin Tokarski was solid, making 29 saves on 31 shots for the victory.

After a quick stint in New York on Friday night, the IceCaps will head back across the border to face the Toronto Marlies on Saturday and Sunday. They last battled the Marlies earlier this month on November 13th and 14th, with two hard-fought games going into overtime. The first win was awarded to the IceCaps with a 3-2 overtime win, but they fell to the Marlies in the infamous 9-8 loss the following night.

(St. John's Icecaps / www.colinpeddle.com) Gabriel Dumont Morgan Ellis Mark MacMillan Toronto Marlies
Photo credit: St. John's IceCaps / www.colinpeddle.com

During that first game, Hudon and Darren Dietz scored in regulation, with Christian Thomas taking a pass from goaltender Zach Fucale to beat the Marlies netminder Garret Sparks and score the overtime winner. Fucale was impressive in goal, stopping 36 of 38 shots, earning him first-star of the night.

It looked like the second game was in the bag with the IceCaps having a very healthy 8-4 lead early in the third period. However, the Marlies decided to fight back, getting four unanswered goals and sending the game into overtime, splitting the series. Despite the loss, that game set a new franchise record and tied an AHL record for highest-scoring regulation tie, with 16 goals scored heading into an extra frame.

McCarron also set a new IceCaps franchise record, notching five points (two goals, three assists), and seven IceCaps registered multi-point games.

With all of the roster moves this past week, how will the IceCaps fare on this road trip? This weekend they'll be short Sven Andrighetto, Holloway, Thomas and Tokarski, who have all been called up to the Montreal Canadiens due to injuries.

Jumping into the open slots are goaltender Eddie Pasquale and forward Tim Bozon who have both been recalled from the Brampton Beast of the ECHL. Pasquale has posted a 1-1-1 record with the IceCaps but Bozon has not yet seen any action on this team this season.

Defenceman Jarred Tinordi, who has yet to play a regular season game of any variety this season, has been assigned from the Canadiens to the IceCaps for conditioning. The IceCaps also signed forward Luc-Olivier Blain to a professional tryout. Blain has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 13 games with the ECHL's Beast.

With the roster change-ups, the close divisional standings (Toronto in first, St. John's third, and Rochester fifth) and the fact that the IceCaps have pushed seven games into overtime so far this season, it seems the IceCaps are in for an interesting battle this weekend.