Heading into the Christmas break, the St. John’s IceCaps had three of their 10 road games under their belt, coming away with four points. After having a full week off, they continued their trip with four games between Christmas and New Year’s.
Before their first game on Boxing Day, the IceCaps were sitting in third place in the North Division with 31 points (14-12-3).
Monday, December 26
Bryan Pitton was signed to a PTO on Christmas Day as a backup for St. John’s’ number one netminder, Charlie Lindgren. Pitton was brought on for insurance as Yann Danis was awaiting the arrival of his third child.
The IceCaps stretched their point streak to four games after taking home a 2-1 victory over the Marlies in their first contest back after the holidays. What makes the win even more impressive was that they were short their top players, all of whom were either called up to the Montreal Canadiens or on the injured list.
With help from Max Friberg and Jacob de la Rose, Daniel Audette notched the first goal for the IceCaps at 5:52 of the second frame. Six minutes later, Jeremy Grégiore made it 2-0 for the IceCaps on a short-handed goal.
Daniel Audette scores a beauty. Nice play by de la Rose on the turnover, smart feed from Friberg. pic.twitter.com/VbRcpIqd49— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) December 26, 2016
Lindgren had another first star performance. The Marlies out-shot the IceCaps 25-15, but Lindgren stood tall, kicking aside all but one that Kerby Rychel slipped past him early in the third to get the lone goal for the Marlies.
Wednesday, December 28
After suffering an injury on December 3 during a contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Nikita Scherbak finally made his return to the ice.
Just two weeks before, the IceCaps took home a 3-0 victory over the Comets. This time Utica put up a fight to make it a real nail-biter.
Utica opened the scoring just a little over three minutes into the opening period, but Bobby Farnham answered quickly one minute later. Two minutes after that, the Comets took the lead again to make it 2-1 before the seven-minute mark.
The alternating scoring continued during the second period after a rocket from Tom Parisi tied it up for the IceCaps. One minute later, Utica grabbed the lead once again. Again, in a little over a minute, with two-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, Mark MacMillan potted his first of the season to make it 3-3 heading into the third.
The IceCaps took four penalties during the final frame and were outshot 12-4, but, with the combination of Lindgren and the penalty kill being on their game, off to overtime they went.
Jordan Subban took a hooking penalty for the Comets, and a swift play by Jacob de la Rose and Scherbak allowed Daniel Audette to fool Thatcher Demko to give the IceCaps a 4-3 victory. Audette earned first star of the night thanks to his game-winning goal and two helpers he picked up along the way.
Friday, December 30
In the rematch against the Comets, Lindgren made 31 saves during his third straight start and earned first-star honours in the process. It was also the third straight win for the IceCaps.
Utica were the first to light the lamp early in the opening period, but David Broll, from Mark MacMillan and Brett Lernout, evened the score less than five minutes later.
It was actually the Comets who seemed a little undisciplined this time around, racking up a total of 10 PIMs to St. John’s’ four.
Friday’s game wasn’t a nail-bitter like Wednesday’s back-and-forth, with the tally staying at 1-1 right up to the final buzzer. Heading into overtime, Julien Brouillette potted the game-winner with Daniel Audette and Max Friberg picking up the helpers.
After taking home their third ‘W’ in as many games, the IceCaps moved into second place with 38 points (17-12-3), just one point behind the Syracuse Crunch, whom they faced on Saturday.
Saturday, December 31
Goals, goals and more goals!
A New Year’s Eve matchup against the Crunch, who are atop the North Division, made for one fierce contest, with both teams fighting for the coveted number-one spot.
The opening frame was fast and furious. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the combined 14 shots on goal, but add to that 51 PIMs and seven goals, and you’ve got yourself one helluva period.
The Crunch were first on the board at 7:29 and continued with three more unanswered goals in three minutes. Just when it looked like the IceCaps were heading to the slaughter, they came back with three unanswered goals of their own (Markus Eisenschmid, Jacob de la Rose, and Mark MacMillan) in four minutes.
Early in the second period, Joel Hanley got tagged for holding and Erik Condra took advantage, making it 5-3 for Syracuse. Both teams eased up on the penalties for the middle period and it was 6-4 for the Crunch heading into the third, with Daniel Audette notching his sixth of the season for the IceCaps.
The penalties were kicked into high gear again during the final frame with David Broll and Bobby Farnham each getting slapped with a 10-minute misconduct. De la Rose closed the gap to make it a one-goal game at 9:56, but with 15 seconds left, Cory Conacher clued it up with an empty-netter to make it a 12-goal, 96 PIM, 7-5 victory crazy kind of game!
The IceCaps took home six out of a possible eight points from the middle of their road trip. They slipped to third place (17-13-3) after facing the Crunch, but are pretty much neck-and-neck with the Albany Devils (18-13-0-1).
The IceCaps continue their road trip next week, wrapping it up with three games. First up is that Devils team on Wednesday, January 4.