The St. John’s IceCaps continue their six-game road trip against divisional rivals on Wednesday against the North Division leading Syracuse Crunch.
This will be the seventh meeting of the season between the two teams, of which the IceCaps have only won once in regulation, with two more wins coming in overtime.
With only more game against the Crunch after this one, and the playoff race becoming very tight, divisional matches need to take on an increased urgency for the IceCaps, and the Caps will have to find a way to beat the Crunch. Currently the IceCaps are sitting in fifth place in the North Division, just a hair outside of playoff contention.
The IceCaps started their March road trip on a very strong note. They recorded two shutouts wins, one against the Rochester Americans and one against the Toronto Marlies, and need to continue down this strong path to recapture a playoff spot from the Marlies or Utica Comets.
While Charles Hudon was held pointless in three games in a row for the first time this season, Nikita Scherbak had a goal and two assists over the week-end, and overall has been held pointless only three times in the last 14 games, scoring three goals and adding 11 assists in that span. Jacob de la Rose added two goals in three games as well as he begins to heat up again.
Of great concern is the recent play of rookie centre Daniel Audette, whose production has completely fallen off a cliff, recording only one goal and four assists in the last 25 games.
Against the Crunch, the IceCaps will have to watch out for the offensive prowess of Cory Conachar and defenceman Matt Taormina, who are among the League leaders in points. Montreal Canadiens fans will recognize Michael Bournival on the Crunch roster, who has made a successful return to playing professional hockey this season after two years of dealing with severe post-concussion syndrome. He has 13 points in 28 games. He’s also made a return to the NHL, playing 17 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Other familiar names include former St. John’s IceCaps Stefan Fournier, and Jonathan Racine, who was recently traded to Tampa Bay for defenceman Nikita Nesterov. Former IceCaps captain Gabriel Dumont is also on the team, but is currently on recall with Tampa Bay.
Here are the highlights from last two-game series played between these two teams in Mid-February.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.