The St. John’s IceCaps found themselves without many of their top players this weekend as they took on the Utica Comets and Rochester Americans.
Sven Andrighetto, Michael McCarron and Mark Barberio have all been called up to the Montreal Canadiens, while Nikita Scherbak and Charles Hudon are on the injured list and expected to be out until after Christmas.
This didn’t seem to deter the IceCaps one bit during Friday’s game against the Comets.
Shots were pretty even during the first period but there was nothing to show for it. The IceCaps took an early lead once the second period rolled around when, less than two minutes in, Yannick Veilleux notched his first goal of the season.
Brett Lernout, who seems to be picking up his game as of late, got the helper, bringing him up to eight assists for the season.
Yannick Veilleux gets his first goal with St. John's with some help from Brett Lernout. pic.twitter.com/K4tQx5p6id— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 17, 2016
Jeremy Gregoire kept the scoring going in the third to make it 2-0 for the IceCaps. Philip Samuelsson dropped the gloves against Andre Grenier, and Daniel Audette took advantage of the power-play to give the IceCaps a healthy three-goal lead with six minutes left in the final frame.
Jeremy Gregoire with some impressive hand-eye coordination, bats this puck past Thatcher Demko pic.twitter.com/gSbKSh6hma— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 17, 2016
The key element for the IceCaps was definitely netminder Charlie Lindgren, who was awarded first star of the night after kicking aside 33 shots and grabbing his first professional shutout in the process.
Following an injury to speedy forward Sven Andrighetto on the same night, Chris Terry received a call up to the Canadiens.
Following a 3-0 win in Utica on Friday night, the IceCaps traveled to Rochester for a meeting with their North Division rivals. The team was without many of their star players yet again, and was now also missing their leading scorer in Terry.
Despite playing the previous night the IceCaps controlled the flow of play early in the opening period, with every line generating offensive chances with relative ease. However a returning Linus Ullmark managed to keep the IceCaps at bay for most of the opening frame.
With twenty five seconds remaining Stefan Matteau and Max Friberg broke in on a two-on-one and the St. John’s captain made no mistake, putting his team up 1-0.
The second period was much less kind to the IceCaps, the Americans owned an 11-4 shot advantage. They also managed to put two of those shots past Yann Danis, taking the lead into the third period.
The game wasn’t without intensity. After Bobby Farnham was bloodied by an errant stick, Stefan Matteau and Johnathan Racine incited a scrum at centre ice.
Trailing into the third period, St. John’s came out strong and it was their fourth line that created yet another goal. Brett Lernout corralled a pass from David Broll and fired it in on net, where Yannick Veilleux showcased some soft hands and tipped it past Ullmark to tie the game.
Lernout shoots, Veilleux with the deft hands tips it home! pic.twitter.com/X2Xj8nICe6— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2016
The road weary IceCaps pushed the game to overtime, and were in search of another win in New York. Unfortunately, Justin Bailey had other plans. He drove to the front of the net and tucked the puck beyond the reach of a sprawling Yann Danis to give Rochester the win.
With their New York road trip over, St. John’s sits in third place in the North Division at 14-12-3, earning thirty-one points in the process. They trail the division leading Syracuse Crunch by just four points.
With the point secured during their overtime loss on Saturday the IceCaps also move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, with a four point cushion on the ninth place team.
The IceCaps will have a week to rest up leading into Christmas. It’s a key break in the schedule for St. John’s, especially considering they have four games on the docket the following week.