The IceCaps will play host the Springfield Thunderbirds this weekend to wrap up an eight-game homestand. This will be the Thunderbirds first appearance at Mile One Centre, and it will be a fun one as Friday night is the sixth annual NTV/Salvation Army Teddy Toss.
It’s been an up-and-down journey so far during this home stand, rotating with a loss then an overtime or shootout win the following game, for the last six contests.
Currently in fourth place in the North Division with 25 points, the IceCaps are teetering very close to batting .500 (12-11-1). The Thunderbirds are sitting at the .500 mark (8-8-3-2) and are in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.
Springfield Thunderbirds - Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10
NHL affiliate: Florida Panthers
Last time they met: Friday, November 11, 2016
It will be interesting to see where the IceCaps and Thunderbirds pick up after their last chippy encounter. Their first ever meeting took place in October and was a close battle, with the IceCaps losing 5-4 in overtime.
The second meeting on Remembrance Day, however, saw a new rivalry being born.
Both teams kept the penalty bench warm with the IceCaps serving 38 minutes and the Thunderbirds serving 26 minutes. The first period started out with your run of the mill penalties, whereas the second period had Brett Lernout and Jakub Kindl kicking it up a notch with a 10 minute misconduct for their continuous altercation. Stefan Matteau, who leads the IceCaps in penalty minutes, earned another misconduct for abuse of officials for good measure with six seconds left in the third.
It’s no wonder the IceCaps are currently holding the record for the most penalized team, not just in their division, but in the league with 440 PIM.
In addition to the parade to the penalty box, the IceCaps were out-shot 33-21 and the Thunderbirds took home the 3-1 victory. Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron had a few good opportunities but couldn’t get one past Reto Berra.
So close Scherbak, so close. He has been one of few IceCaps creating with the puck. pic.twitter.com/M60Hv548A3— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) November 12, 2016
Before losing his cool, it was Matteau who found the back of the net, scoring the lone goal for the IceCaps during a power play.
Things to watch:
- The IceCaps will be without both their co-leading goal scorer and their point leader this weekend.
Scherbak suffered an injury after taking an awkward hit during last Saturday’s game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and is expected to be out for the next week or two.
Due to injuries to both Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, Sven Andrighetto was recalled to the Canadiens.
- They may also be missing their big center, McCarron, who is day-to-day due to a hand injury. As of Tuesday, he was back on the ice for practice but still not in a full contact jersey.
- On the plus side, they’ll have their top defenseman backing them again. After six games with the Habs, Mark Barberio, was sent back down on Wednesday due to Nathan Beaulieu nearing return.
- Netminder, Charlie Lindgren has been hot since the start of the season, but his last two starts have been pretty rocky. He allowed 12 goals in two games, ending both contests with a 6-2 loss.
The IceCaps star goalie has logged the third most minutes in the league, but coach Sylvain Lefebvre believes he just had a few off games and isn’t worn down.
Hopefully Lindgren shakes it off and is ready to battle, because taking into account who’s on the missing list on the IceCaps roster, it could be a tough weekend for the IceCaps.
Up next: The IceCaps will hit the road for a 10 game stretch that will bring them through Christmas and into the new year. Their first game will take place on Wednesday, December 14 against the Binghamton Senators.