Machacek records hat trick as IceCaps trounce Bulldogs 6-0 in rematch at Mile One
The St. John's IceCaps’ Spencer Machacek (right) scores on Hamilton Bulldogs goaltender Nathan Lawson as Bulldogs centre Gabriel Dumont tries to dig the puck from the back of the net Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. Machacek had three goals as the IceCaps responded to a Tuesday-night loss with a convincing 6-0 win over the visiting Bulldogs. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Given the digital world we live in, the day may soon be coming when one can read a news story to the accompaniment of specially-selected, suitable thematic music.
If that day were today, then as you peruse these lines, you might be listening to “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes” as performed by many artists, including Rod Stewart just a couple of years ago.
“What a diff’rence a day makes. Twenty-four little hours brought the sun and the flowers where there used to be rain” goes the opening stanza of the song.
So it went for the St. John’s IceCaps this week at Mile One Centre, where on consecutive nights against the Hamilton Bulldogs they delivered perhaps their most disappointing outing of the 2011-12 American Hockey League season then followed it up with what could qualify as their most dominant performance of the campaign.
The bounce-back game came Wednesday as St. John’s clobbered the Bulldogs 6-0.
The IceCaps’ response to a 4-2 loss Tuesday — when they were flatter than tires on a road made of glass shards — was not totally surprising; they’ve had somewhat similar rebounds at times over the past few months, but the boomerang effect has never been this pronounced. And while the Bulldogs certainly knew there’d be some kind of atmospheric change at Mile One after Tuesday, they might not have expected such a storm.
The numbers help tell the story.
• The six-goal margin Wednesday was the largest in a St. John’s win this season.
• The total of 47 shots the home side fired at Bulldogs’ goalies Nathan Lawson and Robert Mayer was just one short of the IceCaps’ season high.
• The 12 shots the IceCaps allowed were by far the fewest this season, helping provide Eddie Pasquale with one of the easiest shutouts of his career.
•Every single St. John’s skater was at least plus-one on the night (defensive partners Paul Postma and Jason DeSantis were each plus two).
And it all happened without the IceCaps having made a single lineup change from Tuesday.
“All four lines were going tonight, for sure,” said IceCaps’ forward Spencer Machacek, who had a hat trick, bumping his team-leading points total to 49.
“We got some bounces, too, but we worked hard for them.”
Zach Redmond, Aaron Gagnon and Jason Gregoire also scored for St. John’s (38-16-7), which has finished off its eight-game season series against the Bulldogs (27-28-5), each team having won eight games.
“We were lucky to get the chance to bounce back quickly with a game the next night, and playing the same team helps,” added Machacek, who said the IceCaps’ resolve to be better Wednesday was mostly a quiet one.
“There wasn’t too much yelling,” he said about the immediate aftermath Tuesday and the morning skate on Wednesday.
“We all knew what had to happen.”
St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge was obviously pleased with his team in the rematch, but not surprised by the showing. He says the internal workings of the dressing room and the IceCaps’ veteran leadership have developed to the point where such a turnaround is not only possible, but to an extent, predictable.
“There comes a point in every pro hockey team’s season, (during) the journey that we go on, where the room starts to roll with making sure everybody is accountable, making sure everybody is performing at a high level,” said McCambridge.
“It has to happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s concerning.
“(But) it’s taken place in that room, where the guys know what the expectations are and what they have to do to win hockey games.”
Machacek’s first goal of the night came 15 minutes in and Redmond’s tally — on a well-placed snap shot two minutes later — made it 2-0 going into the first intermission. But McCambridge says even if Wednesday’s game had been scoreless after 20 minutes — as it had been through one period Tuesday — his disposition would still have been much improved.
“A hundred percent better,” he said. “You could just see we were all over pucks. We had energy. We had jump. We were moving. We were skating. Last night, we were standing around, just watching Hamilton.
“Tonight, you could sense right from the start ... that they knew the way they had to play and they were ready to play that way.”
He and IceCaps fans will be counting on more of the same this St. Patrick’s weekend when St. John’s hosts the Manchester Monarchs Saturday and Sunday at Mile One.
Notes: The Molson Cup three stars Wednesday: 1. Spencer Machacek, three goals; 2. IceCaps’ captain Jason Jaffray, three assist 3. Zach Redmond (goal, assist) ... The Mary Brown’s hardest-working IceCap: John Negrin ... All the St. John’s scratches are dealing with injuries, to varying degrees. They include goalie David Aebischer, defencemen Brett Festerling and Derek Meech and forwards Garth Murray, Maxime Macenauer, Brock Trotter and Marco Rosa, who hasn’t played since before Christmas because of concussion symptoms, but is back after St. John’s after time in Toronto and Winnipeg ... On Wednesday, Hamilton lost veteran defenceman Frederic St. Denis on recall to the parent Montreal Canadiens ...The IceCaps have released a set of 26 collectible hockey cards featuring 24 players, a team photo card as well as opening-night feature card. Sets, at a retail price of $12.95 plus tax, are available at IceCaps Alley at Mile One Centre, North Atlantic’s Orange Stores, That Pro Look in the Avalon Mall and Maverick Sports and Collectibles on Water Street in St. John’s.