After losing seven of their last 10 games, including two to Binghamton midweek, the St. John’s IceCaps will have to step up their game this weekend when they host the division-leading Syracuse Crunch in another back-to-back set.
The teams have met four times this season already, settling for two wins apiece. The last meeting was back on January 7, when the IceCaps downed the Crunch 2-1 in overtime.
The Crunch are a very physical team, but also a very penalized team. They lead the AHL in minor penalties, and are second in majors. The special-teams battle will be huge through the two games. The IceCaps power-play has been clicking consistently throughout the season, so the Crunch will have to be cautious.
Syracuse is led offensively by former NHLer, and AHL MVP, Cory Conacher. Returning after a season in Europe, the 27-year-old has collected 42 points in 41 games thus far. Matt Taormina is the league leader in points by a defenceman, with 40 points in 45 games played. In goal, Adam Wilcox and Kristers Gudlevskis split the duties.
A few members of the Crunch will be facing former teammates. Michael Bournival spent most of last season in St. John’s, and Jonathan Racine, who was recently a piece in the Nikita Nesterov trade, suited up in 33 games for the IceCaps earlier this year.
For the IceCaps, Charles Hudon is currently riding a five-game point streak. He has four goals and four assists over that time. Hudon sits second on the team in scoring with 31 points in 32 games. St. John’s’ leading scorer is Chris Terry, who leads the IceCaps in goals (17), assists (26), and points (43).
St. John’s will be without the services of Michael McCarron as the forward has been recalled by the Montreal Canadiens.
STJ: 23-22-7 | 4th in North Division
SYR: 25-16-9 | 1st in North Division
STJ: Chris Terry (43 PTS), Charles Hudon (31 PTS), Nikita Scherbak (26 PTS)
SYR: Cory Conacher (42 PTS), Matt Taormina (40 PTS), Yanni Gourde (38 PTS)