It's been a rough start to the new year for the St. John's IceCaps.
Since the beginning of January, they've lost 11 out of 15 games. After a six-game road trip that earned them just four points, the IceCaps headed back to Newfoundland to play back-to-back games against the Utica Comets, only to add two more losses to the losing streak they brought home with them.
On Friday night, Zach Fucale allowed three goals on four shots in the opening 5:16 of the game. Even after sending in Eddie Pasquale in relief, and Bud Holloway and Jacob de la Rose potting a goal each, the IceCaps couldn't get a handle on the game and succumbed in a 5-2 loss.
And they didn't fare much better the following evening. Extra time was needed to decide the winner, but the IceCaps didn't get a chance to add to de la Rose's or Gabriel Dumont's regulation-time goals, giving up the overtime winner just five seconds into the extra frame, and losing to the Comets for the second night in a row, this time by a 3-2 count.
Syracuse Crunch, February 9 and 10
Last time they met: November 21 (2-1 OTL)
After a 4-3 overtime victory against the Syracuse Crunch the previous night, the IceCaps pushed the game into overtime once again, but this time came out on the losing end.
This was around the time the musical chairs between the Montreal Canadiens, St. John's IceCaps, and ECHL's Brampton Beast started to kick into high gear. Sven Andrighetto was called up to the Canadiens, and Dustin Tokarski was sent back to the IceCaps with the (short-lived) return of Carey Price to the Habs' crease, forcing Pasquale down to Brampton to make room.
Captain Dumont scored the lone goal for the IceCaps, earning second star, with Holloway picking up the assist. Fucale was sharp between the pipes, stopping 32 of 34 shots, but it wasn't enough for the win. This game came on the tail end of the IceCaps six-game overtime streak where they had four overtime and two shootout decisions.
Toronto Marlies, February 13 and 14
Last time they met: January 17 (6-4 win)
The IceCaps were looked to put a stop to another five-game losing skid on home turf the last time they took on the Toronto Marlies. After a devastating 6-3 loss to the Marlies on Saturday evening, the IceCaps came out with a vengeance the following afternoon.
As with most games between these two rivals, it was an electrifying game and a busy night on the scoreboard.
Defenceman Morgan Ellis got first star honors after notching a pair of goals for his team. Daniel Carr and Lucas Lessio each added to their tally, while Markus Eisenschmid scored his first professional goal with a beautiful shorthanded rush, and Dumont finished off the game with an empty netter. Darren Dietz racked up a pair of assists and Ryan Johnston notched one: his first pro point.
Fucale stood strong and kicked out 30 of 34 shots, keeping his team in the game for the 6-4 victory.
That contest was expected to be the first game for John Scott after the three-team trade involving Stefan Elliott and Scott leaving the Arizona Coyotes to join the Canadiens organization in return for Jarred Tinordi and Stefan Fournier, for Elliott to be flipped to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Victor Bartley. Although Scott participated in the morning skate and pre-game warmups, he didn't hit the ice that afternoon.
The IceCaps are currently in fifth place in the North Division with Syracuse just one point behind, so the back-to-back games to begin the week will be important for St. John's playoff aspirations.
The Marlies continue to sit atop the division, as they have for most of the season. The St. John's-Toronto rivalry should make for an interesting Valentine's Day weekend, as there is no love lost between the two clubs.