Keith McCambridge had perhaps the best viewing spot in the house and it didn’t cost him anything, but the St. John’s IceCaps head coach sounded like he would have gladly paid the full ticket price to watch his IceCaps beat the Worcester Sharks 6-3 Tuesday night.
“That was probably as good an American Hockey League game as you’re going to see,” said McCambridge after his team handed the Sharks their first regulation-time loss in seven games.
“It was two very good teams playing with lots of pace and speed and tempo.
“We had some of our (Winnipeg Jets) scouts here and they said it was a great game to watch.”
Of course, it was that much more agreeable for McCambridge et al given the IceCaps (6-2-3) ended a three-game losing streak by beating a divisional rival at home.
The Sharks (4-1-2) had only given up 13 goals in their first six games, but St. John’s scored almost half that total Tuesday, getting two goals from Kevin Clark and single tallies from Jason King, Aaron Gagnon, Patrice Cormier and Riley Holzapfel, the latter into an empty net.
IceCaps’ goaltender Eddie Pasquale made 30 saves for his second win in as many starts this season.
The result means St. John’s has taken points away from all five of its road games to date, with three wins and two overtime losses, both of which came at the start of the current road trip.
The team’s six-game visit to New England concludes with what will be a busy weekend, with an encounter against the Eastern Division-leading Connecticut Whale in Hartford on Friday, a rematch with the Sharks in Worcester on Saturday and a concluding date with the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport, Conn., on Sunday afternoon.
The IceCaps got a quick jump on the Sharks with a couple of power-play goals — by King and Gagnon — in the game’s first five minutes — as Worcester’s James Livingston served a double minor for high-sticking, and were up 3-0 midway through the opening frame on Clark’s first of the night.
That substantial lead was key in facing a large-bodied Sharks team that has acquired an early-season reputation for success through rugged play.
“It certainly was, because it meant that had to keep their skill guys out there to try to catch up,” said McCambridge.
Cam MacIntyre, Sena Acolatse and Matt Irwin had the goals for Worcester, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
St. John’s fired 34 shots at Harri Sateri.
Third star Mark Flood and rookie John Albert each had two assists for St. John’s, and those two, along with rearguards Zach Redmond and Travis Ramsey were plus-two on the night.
So was Clark, who was a healthy scratch in the road-trip opener Saturday in Springfield, but who has three goals in the last two games.
He was the first star Tuesday and drew representative praise from McCambridge.
“He was very strong all night, but I don’t really want to single anyone out,” said the St. John’s coach. “This really was (a game) where we got contributions from everyone.
“Just what you want to see.”
The only changes to the lineup the IceCaps used in Sunday’s 4-3 OT loss to the Providence Bruins saw Jason DeSantis replace Arturs Kulda on defence and Pasquale in goal, taking over from David Aebischer, who went the distance Sunday and in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime setback in Springfield ... As of late Tuesday, the parent Jets hadn’t dipped into the IceCaps’ roster for a defenceman, although there is much speculation that will happen. With Tobias Enstrom suffering an injury in Winnipeg’s win over the Panthers Monday in Florida, the Jets could be down to five healthy rearguards. Paul Postma is most-mentioned as a potential recall from St. John’s ... It looks like the IceCaps won’t be facing forward Sean Avery Friday. The much-talked about forward has been recalled from Connecticut by the New York Rangers ...