There’s a flu sweeping through the Winnipeg Jets, one so contagious that it’s effects may be felt thousands of kilometres away.
The St. John’s IceCaps won’t practise today. Coming off four games in six days, including wins Tuesday and Wednesday over the Providence Bruins, the IceCaps could use the rest. Then again, they don’t know if they’ll have enough bodies for a purposeful workout.
The situation involves more than the rash of injuries that has spread through St. John’s forward lines. Exacerbating matters is a flu bug that’s hit the parent team hard.
After his team’s 2-1 overtime win over the P-Bruins Wednesday night at Mile One Centre, IceCaps’ coach Keith McCambridge was expecting to get a call from Winnipeg, one that wouldn’t so much be about congratulating the farm club on moving into first place overall in the American Hockey League or for a rare sweep of a home-ice series. Instead, he was thinking he might be told to send some players to the Jets, who play the Capitals in Washington tonight.
And if that’s the case, the IceCaps may be looking for reinforcements of their own in preparation for games Saturday and Sunday against the Binghamton Senators, contests that will close out a six-game stretch at Mile One.
So far, St. John’s is 3-1 on the home stand. The Caps split with the Worcester Sharks last weekend and took two hard-won victories from Providence, a 2-0 decision on Tuesday and Wednesday’s win, gained when Jason DeSantis scored on a power play 2:26 into the extra frame.
Given the IceCaps’ recent schedule and the fact they’re missing six regular forwards — Aaron Gagnon in Winnipeg and five others because of injury — McCambridge was pleased to watch his tired team find a way to win.
“As the game worn on, you could see fatigue starting to set in on our side,” he said. “We didn’t get pucks deep. We didn’t come through the neutral zone with speed ... and that to me is a sign of fatigue.
“But we dug down and we got the two points.”
Eddie Pasquale stopped 36 shots for the win, his fifth straight and his second in as many nights. The only time the goal light glowed red behind him during the two games against Providence was when the Bruins’ Josh Hennessy snapped a shot past him at 8:45 of the third period, ending Pasquale’s personal shutout streak at just under 130 minutes.
Shawn Weller had the other marker for the IcCaps (30-12-5). It too came on a power-play, contributing to a good night for the home side’s special teams. Providence (22-21-6) was zero-for-five in man-advantage situations Wednesday — including three straight power plays in the third period — and zero-for-nine in the series.
The penalty-killing helped give St. John’s only its third sweep of a two-game series against a visiting team.
“As everyone can tell, we’ve had trouble (winning) back-to-back games here, so it’s a start,” said DeSantis, whose goal came after Bruins’ defenceman Colby Cohen was sent off for cross-checking Jason King.
Just seconds before the resulting power play expired, DeSantis took a pass from King, slid towards the middle of the ice and unleashed a blast that beat Providence netminder Michael Hutchinson, who was dealing with a screening Carl Klingberg.
“I was actually going to go back to King there, because he could one-time it, but the guy stayed on him, so I had a lane there and I decided to shoot it.,” said DeSantis.
For a second game in the row, St. John’s was missing forwards Jason Gregoire, Marco Rosa, John Albert, Jason Jaffray and Patrice Cormier because of injury. The good news was the arrival of right-winger Spencer Machacek from Winnipeg, allowing McCambridge to pencil in a lineup that included four full forward lines.
“It’s an easy team to come into, but I wouldn’t say they needed me,” said Machacek, chosen the Mary Brown’s hardest-working IceCap Wednesday.
“They won last night without me and also a couple of games ago (Friday, when they downed Worcester). But yeah, it’s nice to come back and think you might be helping out a little bit right away.”
Whether he — and some others — stay remains to be seen.
Notes: The Molson Cup three stars Wednesday: 1. Jason DeSantis 2. Eddie Pasquale 3. Josh Hennessey ... Wednesday’s result moved the IceCaps into top spot in the AHL overall standings, a point ahead of the Oklahoma City Barons. The Barons, who have a game in hand, play tonight ... The one healthy scratch for St. John’s Wednesday was defenceman John Negrin ... Bonavista native and Dallas Stars defenceman Adam Pardy played his second game in a conditioning assignment with the AHL’s Austin-based Texas Stars Wednesday ... The IceCaps will wear special St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during their March 17 game against the Manchester Monarchs, and a the end of that contest, these jerseys will be presented to 26 fans, chosen during the next seven home games. Beginning with Saturday’s game against Binghamton, at least three winning numbers will be randomly selected from the regular 50/50 draw during each game, with all the winners being invited to the March 17 game to receive their jerseys directly from the players at the conclusion of the contest ...