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IceCaps Game Preview: Toronto Marlies roll into St. John’s for a weekend series

The rivals clash for the first time this season.

Nikita Scherbak in action against the Marlies
St. John’s Icecaps / Colin Peddle

The last time that the St. John’s IceCaps tangled with the Toronto Marlies it was during the Colemans Cup pre-season series that saw the Marlies sweep the three-game exhibition series.

Since then the Marlies (6-1-1) have gone on to dominate the American Hockey League, sitting at the top of the table with a 0.813 percentage of potential points earned. (Reminder: The AHL ranks their team in this way, not on total points like the NHL does. as teams don’t all play the same total amount of games.)

Players to Watch

Leading the charge for the Marlies is forward Brenden Lepsic who has collected a league-leading 13 points in eight games. The Marlies can also rely on goaltender Antoine Bibeau, who has five wins in six starts, including two shutouts. Both were among the AHL’s three stars for the month of October.

Rookie defenceman Andrew Neilsen is also looking really good for the Marlies and presents an offensive threat from the blue line.

The IceCaps are coming off of a back-to-back sweep of the Utica Comets, and are riding a bit of a hot streak thanks to Nikita Scherbak, who has five goals in four games, Charles Hudon, who is tied for the League lead with seven goals, Chris Terry who has quietly climbed to third overall in league scoring with 11 points, and Charlie Lindgren, who has stolen victory from the clutches of blowout losses on several occasions for the IceCaps.

The hope is that team captain Max Friberg will return from an injury that he sustained on October 28th. Without him and fellow injured forward Jacob de la Rose, the penalty kill had a hard time.

Previous Meetings

There is no more frequent opponent for the IceCaps than the Marlies. They regularly face each other 12 times a season, so there isn’t a more critical division matchup than this one for the Canadiens’ farm team.

It is interesting to note that despite the Marlies being a much stronger team, and Calder Cup semi-finalists last season, the IceCaps have been their equal in head-to-head meetings for years now. Neither team has demonstrated dominance over the other, and in fact over the last four seasons, the IceCaps present a very balanced record, at 24-20-3-1.

The last time these two teams met was in late March last season when the IceCaps were barely clinging on to hope to make the playoffs and the Marlies were on cruise control awaiting the playoffs to start. The Marlies swept the series, taking the games with scores of 5-3 and 4-0. The shutout game was particularly hard, and really sealed the fate of the IceCaps.

St. John’s’ last victory over the Marlies was February 13th.

Game time on Saturday is 7:30 PM NDT (6:00 PM EDT). Don’t forget to set your clock back one hour on Sunday prior to the earlier start of 4:00 PM NST (2:30 PM EST).