by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report
ST. JOHN’S, NL. — On the eve of the St. John’s IceCaps first game of the year in Hartford against the host Wolfpack, one cannot help but feel the buzz that is brought to the city this time of year. Typically every October you can feel it in St. John’s, but this year, under new management and new affiliation there is something special about being connected to the most storied franchise in sports.
In the Coleman’s Cup Training Camp series against rival Toronto Marlies, the IceCaps came back from a Game 1 loss to win games 2 and 3, and the first training camp series win of the franchise history. Game 1 occurred in Stephenville, NL during the IceCaps annual road trip to start the year. Jeremy Gregoire and Morgan Ellis tallied goals for the IceCaps but it wasn’t enough as they lost in the final minute to the Marlies.
Game 2 took place in Corner Brook, NL and was a complete reversal; the IceCaps went out and hammered the Marlies 5-2 on the back of last year’s rookie standout Daniel Carr as he registered two goals. Other scorers were Stefan Fournier, Connor Crisp and Markus Eisenschmid.
Game 3 was held in Gander, NL. The boys took over with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Marlies. Carr registered the lone goal in the shootout, following up a strong performance through the camp. Nikita Scherbak finally seemed to find his groove with a goal and two assists for a game high three points. Joel Hanley, Bud Holloway and Gabriel Dumont were the other goal scorers.
In the four years that the IceCaps have called St. John’s home, they have managed a 50 per cent success rate at finding the playoffs. It’s not necessarily the best percentage, but when they’ve made it to the dance they’ve stuck around all night, making it to Eastern Conference Finals in their inaugural season, and following that up with a loss to the Texas Stars in their third season in town. The exciting part of this is never in those four years did the team ooze the potential it possesses with this combination of young prospects and veterans.
With final cuts from the Canadiens last week, the baby Habs managed to find support in the likes of former Calder Cup Champion and World Junior Champion, Dustin Tokarski. He’ll add to a goalie tandem which has already proved to be competitive between blue chip prospect Zach Fucale and hometown favourite Eddie Pasquale.
Also clearing waivers or being sent down were former AHL Defenseman of the Year, Mark Barberio, incumbent Captain Gabriel Dumont, Christian Thomas, Charles Hudon, Sven Andrighetto, Nikita Scherbak, and Michel Therrien’s favourite pet project Jacob De La Rose.
New projected lines look like we could see Carr – McCarron – Scherbak as a fixture which was present during the Canadiens rookie camp and into regular camp. JDLR could also see time on a top unit with Andrighetto and Hudon. Dumont, Thomas and Gregoire/Bozon may round out the top 9.
The impressive part of these line combinations is the versatility with many of them playing multiple positions through junior and pro ranks.
This provides the IceCaps with potentially the deepest front nine in the Eastern conference, but certainly the most potential. If the Canadiens can remain healthy this year, residents of St. John’s will be in for a treat watching this team and you can feel the anticipation in the air.