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IceCaps Game Previews: Syracuse Crunch & Binghamton Senators

After some outstanding goaltending to wrap up their homestand, the St. John's IceCaps find themselves back in the playoff race.

St. John's IceCaps /

The IceCaps wrapped up their six-game homestand by grabbing some desperately needed points and clawing their way back into the playoff hunt. They swept a two-game series against the Syracuse Crunch and split a weekend back-to-back set with the first-place Toronto Marlies.

Playing the starring role in getting the team back in the race was netminder Zachary Fucale. The rookie goaltender went 3-0-0, while his team was outshot by a combined total of 111-60. He finished with a 1.32 GAA and .964 SV% in three games played, recording his first professional shutout, and was named AHL Player of the Week for the performance.

Hitting the road this week, the IceCaps are hoping to fare better than they did during their last road trip, on which they lost four of their six contests as the visitor.

Syracuse Crunch, February 17

Last time they met: February 9 (4-0 Win) and 10 (4-3 OT Win)

The IceCaps knew it was an important divisional matchup against the Crunch, and took no prisoners in a two-game series sweep.

On Tuesday night, Gabriel Dumont and Morgan Ellis each had a goal and an assist, Bud Holloway tallied three helpers, Nikita Scherbak notched a goal, and Michael McCarron finally ended his 17-game dry spell. Fucale had a first-star performance, shutting the door by kicking out all 39 shots that came his way.

The following evening, the Crunch were thirsty for revenge. Before the first period was over, a line brawl broke out with six players breaking off into pairs. Dumont, Darren Dietz, and McCarron all got in on the fun, but McCarron was the one who was slapped with a 10-minute misconduct.

Fucale stood tall again, this time grabbing second-star honors by stopping 34 of 37 shots. Scherbak started a points streak, Ryan Johnston had a pair of assists, Mark MacMillan hit  the back of the net, and Victor Bartley recorded his first goal as an IceCap on a power play.

Charles Hudon took off from his defensive blue line on a beautiful breakaway in overtime, and fired one past Kristers Gudlevskis for the sweep.

Binghamton Senators, February 19 & 20

Last time they met: December 31 (3-2 Loss)

It was New Year's Eve, and the IceCaps wanted to ring in the new year with a win, but to no avail. The Senators scored just 1:20 into the opening frame and the IceCaps were trailing 2-0 after the first period.

Sven Andrighetto, returning from a stint with the Montreal Canadiens, was the first to get the IceCaps on the board, with assists from Holloway and Hudon. Stefan Fournier (now with the Coyotes organization) took a break from his feud with Guillaume Lepine to tie it up just 1:24 later with help from Michael Bournival and Dietz. Unfortunately the team was unable to register a third goal to extend procedings. Fucale was solid in net, stopping 31 of the 34 shots Binghamtom launched.

The IceCaps are going to have to bring their 'A' game against the Senators, as they've lost three out of their four contests with Ottawa's AHL affiliate this season.

Current standings

After racking up six much-needed points, St. John's is now back in fourth place in the North Division with 54 points, knocking the Syracuse Crunch down to sixth in the process. The Binghamton Senators are currently in last place in the division with 39 points; the third-fewest of any AHL team.