by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report
ST. JOHN’S, NL. — The IceCaps had a big opening weekend in St. John’s against the Rochester Americans. As they took both games by scores of 5-2 and 6-2 respectively.
In Game 1 the Christian Thomas – Michael McCarron – Daniel Carr line made some noise registering two goals from Thomas on some fast transition plays. McCarron enjoyed the experience playing with the two wingers saying “[Thomas and Carr] are two veteran guys who have been around, they really want the puck, so it’s my job to get the puck to them.”
Zachary Fucale also made his first professional start allowing two goals on 33 shots. His head coach spoke highly of his debut. “I know he’s won some pretty big games in World Juniors and the Memorial Cup, he looked good out there” said Sylvain Lefebvre.
Sven Andrighetto also tallied a pair and veteran Bud Holloway rounded out the scoring with one of his own.
In Game two, the McCarron line took over once again, but this time it was the big centerman making noise as he registered his first career goal, and had a far shorter wait for goals number 2 and 3 as he completed the hat trick.
Both games were taken over by the diminutive Thomas and Andrighetto, as they showed the stuff that saw them called up with the Canadiens at times last year. Dustin Tokarski got the nod in game 2 and rebounded from a rough loss last weekend allowing just two goals on 31 shots. Thomas added his third in two nights, while Morgan Ellis and Joel Hanley found themselves on the scoreboard as well.
But the night was overshadowed by McCarron, and it was a big shadow. Standing at 6-foot-6-inches and a lean 228 pounds, he left a lasting impression on the IceCaps fans. It was clear McCarron was sent down to refine his game, and it was evident his skating will likely be a part of that refinement. But what he was working on with his skating, he more than made up with his size and hockey smarts.
First impression of McCarron is that he has a high hockey IQ. He understands his place on the ice, finding his way to the front of the net making life impossible for opposing defensemen and goaltenders. He has the tools to make a very successful career out of that role. A role which is currently undertaken by Brendan Gallagher on the first power-play unit, Habs fans should be drooling over the prospect of this mammoth working his magic in the crease for years to come.
Furthermore, and perhaps more impressive, was his defensive game. Coach Lefebvre chose to give McCarron more responsibility on the penalty kill in game 2, filling in where Jacob De La Rose stood the night before. It’s another reminder of what the AHL can provide for these top prospects. The Canadiens are so focused on putting the right players on the ice every time, whereas the AHL affords an opportunity to give many players exposure in different scenarios.
After game one we had the opportunity to speak with McCarron, and he was cleared excited about the experience so far “I got to play in front of some pretty big crowds in London and Oshawa, in the Memorial Cup [Quebec City] got to play in some big rinks and this was right up there it was pretty fun. [The fans] were electric.”
McCarron went on to say “I think i’m still trying to figure out this league, you don’t have that much time with the puck anymore, you got to make quicker plays.“ It was clear in game 2 that McCarron had figured it out, and if he can continue to bring that energy on a nightly basis we could be in for a treat late into the 2016 spring.