The St. John’s IceCaps began the 2016-17 season with a six-game road trip and wrapped up the month with a back-to-back home-opening weekend. There were some good — and not so good — moments, causing the IceCaps to finish in fifth spot in the North Division with seven points (3-4-1-0).
Charlie Lindgren’s debut
Lindgren had a mild taste of the Upside Down. He was one of those very rare cases where his NHL debut came before his AHL debut.
He was called up to the Montreal Canadiens at the beginning of the season when Carey Price had a bad bout of the flu. He didn’t make his debut with the IceCaps until the second half of their road trip. And what a phenomenal debut it was.
After being outshot 51-21 by the Providence Bruins on October 21, it looked like the IceCaps didn’t stand a chance. That very well could have been the case, had Lindgren not been backing the team up. The rookie goaltender pushed aside all but one puck that came his way, making 50 saves and allowing the IceCaps to grab their first victory of the season.
Zach Fucale sent to Brampton Beast
Lindgren making his way back to the IceCaps after Price’s return created a logjam in the crease. Something had to give with three netminders — rookie Lindgren, sophomore Fucale, and newcomer Yann Danis — vying for two spots.
On October 17, the Canadiens signed veteran goalie Danis to a one-way AHL contract. Danis, 35, minded the net for two games in October, and although he held on until overtime during the first game, he didn’t get the win. The next time, he didn’t make it to overtime, being dealt a regulation loss.
Fucale concluded the 2015-16 season with a 16-19-3 record and was 0-2-0 to start this season. Lindgren, however, won all three games he started in October.
Michael McCarron suspension
The IceCaps had a frustrating start to the season, dropping the first three games of their six-game road trip. Frustration ran a little higher by the end of the third game against the Bruins.
After the final buzzer, Charles Hudon found himself surrounded by yellow jerseys. When McCarron stepped in to lend a hand, Justin Hickman provoked him into a fight.
Hickman continued to punch him, ripping his helmet off in the process. In an attempt to defend himself, McCarron crossed the line and headbutted Hickman in retaliation. The act resulted in a broken nose for Hickman and a two-game suspension for McCarron.
By the end of October, Chris Terry had made himself very comfortable in the IceCaps lineup, leading the team with nine points (4G, 5A). After last season, it should come as no surprise that Hudon and Sven Andrighetto have picked up right where they left off.
Tied with seven points apiece, Andrighetto edged out Hudon just a smidgen after returning from the Montreal Canadiens just a few games into the season. The Swiss winger made an immediate impact when he hit the ice with St. John’s, racking up four goals and three assists in six games, earning AHL Player of the Week honours.
Sven Andrighetto gets his first goal and third point of the night. What a shot. Excellent performance by Sven tonight. pic.twitter.com/KhfWy7kJpO— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) October 23, 2016
On the defensive side of things, Mark Barberio is leading the charge with six points: all assists, and all on the power play.
We’re still waiting for others to step into the role we’re expecting them to play, but until then, check out who made the October Three Stars list
Both the IceCaps power play and penalty kill were on top of their game during their six-game road trip. They scored eight goals in 23 man-advantage chances while only allowing one goal in 26 penalty kills.
Once they came home, however, they seemed to be missing a beat, allowing four power-play goals on nine shots. The losses of Max Friberg and Jacob de la Rose to injury at about the same time very likely has something to do with the chance in fortunes. The team notched just one power-play goal in their final 10 opportunities, as well.
Despite faltering a little during the final two games of the month, the IceCaps finished with the best power-play conversion rate (27.3%) and second-best penalty-kill efficiency (85.7%) in their division.
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