In perhaps their most critical series so far in this 2012-13 American Hockey League season, the St. John’s IceCaps scored a grand total of two goals in one game, were blanked in another and now find themselves four points out of a playoff spot with four teams in between.
And you want to know the truth of it, judging by this most recent display of St. John’s favourite team that’s now eliciting the call of the boobirds? There’s nothing to suggest a win streak and a resulting playoff push is imminent.
If the IceCaps were “devastated” and “heartbroken” by Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Worcester Sharks, Wednesday night’s 4-0 blanking was the punch to the solar plexus as the Sharks woke up this morning seventh in the Eastern Conference while the IceCaps are 13th.
“These were definitely two games that we knew how important they were,” said St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge. “To let it slip away like that last night was a real tough pill to swallow.
“I know this: When we do have opportunities to get ourselves in the game, we seem to be finding a way to push ourselves on the wrong side of the result.”
John McCarthy paced the Sharks Wednesday with two goals. Bracken Kearns and Daniil Tarasov, with his third goal in two games at Mile One Centre, also scored.
Harri Sateri registered the shutout as the IceCaps managed only 21 shots on goal.
At the other end, Eddie Pasquale made 30 saves.
The IceCaps were in this one for just about two periods until they ran into penalty trouble late in the second.
With Worcester up 1-0 on Tarasov’s marker, the Sharks went on the power play when Richard Petiot was nabbed for checking to the head at the 17:41 mark. Five seconds later, Ben Chiarot fired the puck over the boards and was handed a delay-of-game minor.
Playing five-on-three hockey, Kearns one-timed a Matt Tennyson shot past Pasquale for a 2-0 lead. Thirty seconds later, with 12 seconds left in Chiarot’s penalty, McCarthy potted his first of two.
It was, for all intents and purposes, game over, especially for an IceCaps team that can’t score goals.
Their 111 tallies rank 25th in the 30-team league. Only one player — Eric O’Dell, with 12 — is in double figures. Spencer Machacek, the team’s leading scorer last season, has a goal and an assist in nine games since returning from Winnipeg’s training camp. Carl Klingberg hasn’t scored in 12 games.
“I’m not going to single out individual guys,” McCambridge said. “As a committee, we have to ensure we’re getting pucks stopped in our own zone, we have to make sure we’re moving pucks up ice, and finishing on scoring chances.
“We have to do a better job getting shots to the net. We were unable to generate any offence from that. You have to get pucks to the net and you have to battle to get rebounds.”
It marked the seventh time this season the IceCaps have been shut out, and the fourth time St. John’s has been swept at Mile One.
The win improved the Sharks’ record to 5-1 at Mile One. Ironically enough, the IceCaps are 5-0 at Worcester’s DCU Centre.
If there was something IceCaps’ fans could cheer about Wednesday, it was the fact there were plenty of fisticuffs with five different fights on the card.
St. John’s won a couple (Patrice Cormier scored a TKO on James Livingston), but clearly came up short where it mattered — the scoreboard.
The IceCaps now prepare for the Connecticut Whale Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Mile One.