Perhaps it was the early morning rise that threw the St. John’s IceCaps off their game during their 11:00 ET (12:30 NDT) meeting with the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday morning.
Heading into the match-up, the IceCaps had managed to work their way back into third place in the North Division while the Marlies were enjoying life at the top after surpassing the Syracuse Crunch.
It’s been a back-and-forth season between these two rivals. In their previous nine contests, the IceCaps have taken home the victory in four of those games, with the Marlies taking five victories.
Yann Danis was between the pipes for the third game in a row. With starting goaltender Charlie Lindgren still up with the Montreal Canadiens, it was up to Danis or Brampton Beast netminder, Zach Fucale, to help the IceCaps hold onto their playoff spot.
When the puck dropped, it looked as if the IceCaps were the ones that got up on the right side of the bed. In an unassisted breakaway, Max Friberg was the first to light the lamp with a little over three minutes left in the opening frame.
Less than a minute into the second period, the top line showed off their skills when Charles Hudon notched his 25 goal of the season, with the help of Nikita Scherbak and Chris Terry.
Death, Taxes, and Charles Hudon scoring against the Marlies. This goal is his 25th of the year. pic.twitter.com/nncp7VBfvt— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 4, 2017
After that, it seemed as if the IceCaps fell into a slumber. The Marlies took over. First with a shorthanded goal by Frederik Gauthier, then by adding four more unanswered tallies. They tied it up before the second period buzzer, and continued their assault right up to 1:56 left in the third.
- Brendan Leipsic (TOR) - 1G, 1A
- Steve Oleksy (TOR) - 1A
- Kerby Rychel (TOR) - 2G
The 5-2 loss bumped the IceCaps out of their playoff spot and into fifth place with 76 points in 71 games. It’s difficult not to wonder if their number one goalie would be the difference maker if he wasn’t up with the Canadiens.
The race in the division is still tight, and those final two playoff spots remain up for grabs. The Albany Devils and Utica Comets are the IceCaps biggest competition as they sit in third and fourth place, respectively, each with 75 points and a game in hand.
The IceCaps have a very important three-game weekend ahead of them. Starting with the Devils on Friday night, the Binghamton Senators on Saturday, and finishing up with the Comets on Sunday afternoon.