The St. John's IceCaps got a win, and perhaps more importantly found a way to score on the power play Saturday night which should breathe some life into a very ordinary-looking team when it returns to Mile One Centre later this week for the first of six straight home games.
Derek Meech scored his first goal of the year at 6:56 of the third period, and the IceCaps held on for a 2-1 American Hockey League win over the Hershey Bears at the Giant Centre in Pennsylvania.
The IceCaps closed out their five-game road trip 2-3 and wake up this morning with a 6-7 record.
"In a tough building, on a Saturday night when the crowd can be intimidating, I liked the energy we brought to the game," said coach Keith McCambridge. "I like the (scoring) chances we generated and I certainly liked the fact we got a power play goal."
Meech's goal, which finished off a passing play with Ray Sawada and John Albert, broke a one-for-42 slump with the man advantage.
Eric O'Dell also scored for St. John's. It marked O'Dell's fourth tally of the season, which, remarkably, makes him the IceCaps' goalscoring leader.
"Eric O'Dell," McCambridge said of the second-year pro from Ottawa, "has shown some real positive signs. He's a flexible guy, who can play either on the wing or in the middle and he's been given the chance to play a larger role this season. He's getting to loose pucks, and on the defensive side, he's developed at a real good rate.
"He's making an impression on the coaching staff."
More from O'Dell - not to mention others - would make an even bigger impression. Outside an 8-7 win over the Portland Pirates last month at Mile One, the IceCaps have not scored more than three goals in a dozen games. And St. John's has won back-to-back games only once so far this year, in the second and third games on the schedule.
- The St. John's IceCaps' Eric O'Dell celebrates with teammate Travis Ramsey after scoring against the Hershey Bears in the teams' American Hockey League game Saturday night in Hershey, Pa. The IceCaps went on to win 2-1. O'Dell leads the team in scoring with four goals in 13 games. " />
The IceCaps have a chance to string together a few wins this weekend when the Albany Devils come to town for games Friday and Saturday night.
Entering tonight's game against the Norfolk Admirals, the Devils are 3-5 and are actually more challenged to find the back of the net than the IceCaps, with 18 goals, fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Following a scoreless first period, O'Dell got St. John's on the scoreboard first, banging a rebound past veteran Hershey goaltender Dany Sabourin at the 5:18 mark.
It stood 1-0 until Barry Almeida drew the Bears even with 1:14 left in the second, capping off a play with Matt Pope and veteran Jeff Taffe.
When Pope picked up a double minor for high-sticking Carl Klingberg just over three minutes into the third period, Sawada gained the Bears' zone, dropped a pass to Albert who found Meech trailing the play.
Mark Dekanich wasn't overly busy in the St. John's goal, making 18 saves to improve to 4-1 on the year.
The Molson Cup three stars were 1. Ray Sawada 2. Derek Meech 3. Barry Almeida ... The Mary Browns hardest working IceCap was Maxime Macenauer, who centered a line with Sawada and John Albert ... Among the scratches for the IceCaps were Aaron Gagnon, who missed his third straight game, and Jason King, who sat out his second straight start. Both are said to be nursing nagging injuries ... Other scratches were Jason Gregoire, Will O'Neill, Hunter Tremblay and Julian Melchiori ... In addition to the Devils, the Hamilton Bulldogs and Providence Bruins are scheduled to play at Mile One on the next homestand ...