The IceCaps are looking to add some much-needed wins during their final road trip of the regular season. Starting the first match of a seven-game stretch before heading back home, they need to score some major points in order to grab themselves a spot in the playoffs. Up first was a divisional rival, the Utica Comets, who sat five points ahead of the IceCaps in third place of the North Division.
Both teams proved early on in the contest that they came to play, hitting the ice fast and furious. It looked like the Comets would be the ones to use that energy to open the scoring, when the IceCaps turned the puck over in their own end early in the first. The Comets fired two good shots at Zachary Fucale, but he made sure neither found the back of the net.
The IceCaps were the first on the scoreboard at 2:25, when Jeremy Grégoire notched his fourth goal of the season, with Mark MacMillan and Brandon McNally picking up the helpers.
Newcomer Chris Joyaux, signed to an amateur tryout contract on Wednesday, drew a holding penalty to send the IceCaps on their first power kill less than five minutes in. The Comets kept the pressure on, staying in the IceCaps zone for the majority of the two-minute sentence and threatening to tie things up with some quick shots at Fucale, but couldn't cash in.
Both teams maintained the speed and drive during the second period, keeping it pretty even keel in both penalties and shots on goal. The Comets came close to getting one past Fucale when the puck bounced off his shoulder and hit the crossbar, but the IceCaps kept the 1-0 lead heading into the third.
The final frame started off with four skaters a side, after Nikita Scherbak and Taylor Fedun got matching slashing penalties in the final seconds of the second period. With just 10 minutes left in the third, and the IceCaps being outshot 12-1 while protecting a lead, Carter Bancks flicked a wrist shot past Fucale to tie it up, and ultimately send it into overtime.
It was the IceCaps' 18th time heading to overtime so far this season, and they showed they've become old pros at it by this point. Just 1:19 in, with a feed from Morgan Ellis, Max Friberg shot one in glove side on Joe Cannata for the win, and first-star honors.
After losing his last five starts, Fucale had a great outing against the Comets, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced, and being named second star of the night in the process. Starting this grueling road trip with a victory under his belt should be just the confidence boost he needs to get his mojo back.
Continuing on with their three-game weekend, the IceCaps will next face the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday and Sunday night.