IceCaps take points quest to Pennsylvania

Brendan McCarthy
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St. John's faces Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' forwards Paul Thompson (37) and Brian Gibbons, along with St. John's IceCaps defenceman Travis Ramsey keep an eye on the play in front of IceCaps goaltender Edward Pasquale on May 3, 2012, in Game 2 of their American Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal at Mile One Centre. The IceCaps and Penguins square off in regular-season action tonight in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.— File photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The St. John's IceCaps say they aren't paying much attention to the long-term math, and are instead focusing on the immediate problem, hoping it all adds up to a playoff spot this spring.

But here is the situation. Heading into tonight's game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in northeastern Pennsylvania, the IceCaps (18-20-3) sit in 12th place in the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference, three points behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Worcester Sharks, tied for eighth spot, which would be the conference's final playoff berth. Both the Sharks and Sound Tigers have a game in hand on St. John's.

Last season, it took 83 regular-season points to claim the conference's final playoff spot. If that was to be the case again this year, then the IceCaps would have to pick up 44 points in their last 35 games. There are many combinations that could provide that total, but a record of 22 wins versus 13 losses would be the simplest example.

That's about three wins in every five games.

To their credit, the IceCaps have bettered that pace through the first half of a six-game road trip that continues tonight in Wilkes-Barre. St. Johns' has gained five points in three games on two wins and a shootout loss.

"We're not looking very far down the road," said head coach Keith McCambridge. "We know we need wins and we know that we need points, but we're only concentrating on getting that next win, the next available points.

"The only thing we want is a playoff spot. But that's not going to happen in one big leap. It's one step at a time."

To get to that eighth-place position, St. John's will have to get past four other teams, including the Penguins, who sit 10th in the conference with 41 points, two more than St. John's.

However, the IceCaps have show the ability to move up in the last four weeks. At one point in late December, St. John's had the AHL's worst winning/points percentage, but has advanced five places in those standings since then.

Eddie Pasquale will make his fifth straight start in goal tonight for the IceCaps. Through the first three games of the road trip, he has allowed just four goals in regulation and overtime, posted the shutout in a 1-0 Saturday night win over the Norfolk Admirals and followed that up with another first-star performance Monday with 32 saves in a 3-2 comeback win over the conference-leading Binghamton Senators.

Notes

The Penguins lost four players with the end of the NHL lockout. Defencemen Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzi, along with forward Erik Tangradi, were recalled by the parent team in Pittsburgh, while rearguard Brian Strait was taken by the New York Islanders on a waiver claim .... Expect the AHL to announce either today or tomorrow replacement selections for the league's upcoming All-Star Game. Among the likely changes will be one involving the IceCaps as defenceman Zach Redmond, the only St. John's player chosen to take part in the event, is with the Winnipeg Jets. The all-star event will be held Sunday and Monday in Providence, R.I. ... All three games on the IceCaps' current road trip have been decided by one goal, making it 22 one-goal games for St. John's so far this season. That's not counting another dozen or so that featured empty-net goals.

bmcc@thetelegram.com

ICECAPS STATS

SCORING

No. Player Pos GP G A Pts +/- PIM

15 Jason Jaffray LW 30 6 17 23 -2 23

10 Spencer Machacek RW 38 9 10 19 -20 28

27 Raymond Sawada RW 30 8 11 19 -7 30

4 x Paul Postma D 27 7 11 18 -3 16

7 Derek Meech D 36 3 15 18 -6 32

24 x Zach Redmond D 36 8 9 17 -3 32

26 Maxime Macenauer C 38 8 9 17 -14 30

14 Eric O'Dell C 24 9 7 16 7 18

49 Ben Maxwell C 41 2 11 13 -12 14

48 Carl Klingberg LW 37 7 5 12 8 12

17 Jason Gregoire LW 33 7 4 11 -2 4

8 x Alex Burmistrov C 22 2 9 11 -2 24

21 Kael Mouillierat C 19 3 7 10 E 15 22 * Ivan Telegin LW 34 3 7 10 1 8

23 * Will O'Neill D 31 1 8 9 -6 6

36 Hunter Tremblay LW 13 1 5 6 -4 7

18 * Ben Chiarot D 36 1 5 6 -9 55

29 Dean Arsene D 36 0 6 6 -2 62

9 Kevin Clark RW 28 4 1 5 -1 25

16 John Albert C 20 3 2 5 1 8

21 x Derek Whitmore LW 7 1 3 4 -2 2

5 Jason King RW 9 1 3 4 -1 6

20 Richard Petiot D 4 1 1 2 2 2

19 x Joey Sides LW 6 0 2 2 1 2

28 Patrice Cormier C 13 1 0 1 E 26

2 Travis Ramsey D 16 1 0 1 1 2

44 * Julian Melchiori D 20 0 1 1 -2 14

11 x Aaron Gagnon C 25 0 1 1 -2 14

47 x Ray Kaunisto LW 1 0 0 0 -1 0

43 Shawn Weller LW 3 0 0 0 -1 0

42 Josh Lunden LW 5 0 0 0 -1 5

41 * Cody Sol D 7 0 0 0 3 9

38 Ryan Schnell LW 13 0 0 0 E 33

31 x Mark Dekanich G 16 0 0 0 - 0

40 Eddie Pasquale G 27 0 0 0 - 4

SHOOTOUT/BENCH 41 1 8

TOTALS 41 98 170 267 576

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Note: One goal is added to team total for every shootout win, but do not figure in the totals of individual players or team points total.

GOALIES

No. Player GP Rec SO GA GAA Sv%

40 Eddie Pasquale 27 11-14-2 3 66 2.53 .918

31 Mark Dekanich 16 7-6-1 1 42 2.80 .904

TOTALS (includes 8 empty-net goals) 36 18-20-2 3 116 2.80 .907

* - rookie

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, Bridgeport Sound Tigers Penguins NHL New York Islanders Winnipeg Jets

Geographic location: St. John's, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Providence, R.I.

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