The St. John’s IceCaps staked the Toronto Marlies to a four-goal lead Sunday afternoon, and very nearly battled back to tie things up only to fall short in a 5-4 loss at the the Ricoh Coliseum.
The loss drops the IceCaps to 23-29-1-2 on the year, and 14th in the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
St. John’s closes out its six-game road trip Tuesday night at Copps Coliseum with a game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. The IceCaps are currently 2-3 on the road swing, 2-7 in their past nine games.
The Marlies, who had lost five of their previous six games, scored five times in the second period and then held on for the win as the IceCaps responded with three unanswered goals in the third, including two by Patrice Cormier and Spencer Machacek in the final 70 seconds.
“We played yesterday and St. John’s has been sitting around, they’ve been in Toronto for two or three days practising,” Toronto coach Dallas Eakins told the Canadian Press. “They were fresh, and we just started losing guys off our bench (in the third period). Carter Ashton couldn’t go anymore, Will Acton couldn’t go anymore, Tim Connolly left ... we were getting real low on bodies and having played the day before, that doesn’t mesh very well.”
Jake Gardiner had a goal and two assists for the Marlies, third in the West at 27-18-2-4. Ashton, Acton, Kenny Ryan and Jerry D’Amigo also scored. Kael Mouillierat had a goal and two assists for the IceCaps, giving him seven points (goal, six assists) in his last two games. Ben Maxwell also scored for the visitors, and Dean Arsene had two helpers.
The Marlies scored three times in a five-minute span midway through the second and added two more goals late in the period.
Toronto goalie Mark Owuya stopped 36 of 40 shots while St. John’s netminder Mark Dekanich made 17 saves.
The IceCaps played their fifth straight game without the services of veteran defenceman Derek Meech, sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. With Julian Melchiori on recall to Winnipeg, the IceCaps dressed six defencemen — Arsene, Travis Ramsey, Ben Chiarot, Richard Petiot, Will O’Neill and Cody Sol.
The Bulldogs dropped a 2-0 decision to the Milwaukee Admirals Sunday, and are 5-2 in their last seven games. The Bulldogs sit in last place in the Western Conference at 20-26-1-5.
St. John’s begins a six-game homestand at Mile One Centre this weekend when the Manchester Monarchs visit Friday and Saturday.