Loss snaps three-game win streak; IceCaps 7-3 in last 10 games
St. John’s IceCaps goaltender Jussi Olkinuora, defenceman Will O’Neill and Hamilton Bulldogs forward Maxime Macenauer — a former IceCap — keep their eyes on the puck that sails wide of the goal during an American Hockey League game Saturday night in Hamilton, Ont. Olkinuora, a rookie from Finland, made 30 saves for his first professional shutout as the IceCaps won 3-0. — Photo courtesy Hamilton Bulldogs
By Robin Short
Telegram Sports Editor
The Toronto Marlies struck for two goals on four third-period shots on ECHL callup Michael Hutchinson to pull out a 3-2 win over the St. John’s IceCaps, who closed out the pre-Christmas portion of their 2013-14 American Hockey League schedule Sunday evening in southern Ontario.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the IceCaps, who will enjoy an 11-day holiday break starting today. St. John’s is 7-3 in its last 10 games and 15-11-1-2, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
This weekend’s pair of games — the IceCaps blanked the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-0 Saturday night on Jussi Olkinuora’s 30-save effort, the rookie’s Finn’s first pro shutout — ends an arduous portion of the schedule that saw St. John’s play 12 games in the past 24 days.
“The break is well-timed,” said IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge, who along with his assistant coaches and IceCaps staff were stranded in Toronto last night because of the weather that hit Newfoundland. “We played a lot of games in a short period of time, so this gives us a chance to catch our breath and get re-focused again after Christmas.”
Hutchinson was recalled to St. John’s from the ECHL’s Ontario Reign Saturday after Eddie Pasquale came up lame during practice Friday in Hamilton.
Hutchinson, who had a 13-2-2 record and sparkling 1.91 goals against average for the Reign this season, watched as Olkinuora stopped all 30 shots he faced for his fourth win.
Rather than throw Olkinuora back in goal Sunday, McCambridge said he opted to give Hutchinson the nod given the 3 o’clock afternoon start.
Pasquale is listed as the usual “day to day”, meaning he should be good to go when St. John’s resumes its schedule Dec. 27 in Worcester, Mass., against the Sharks.
“We’ve played some good hockey,” acknowledged McCambridge. “There’s still room for improvement, but we’ve done some good things and we’ll just continue making the right steps with our young group.”
When asked exactly what some of those “things” might be, the coach said, “our compete level. To play 12 games in 24 nights and to compete the way they did tonight is a real testament to that group.”
Sunday, before 5,751 at the Ricoh Coliseum, David Broll netted the winning goal at 7:52 of the third period as the Marlies won their second straight game. Brad Ross and Carter Ashton also scored for the Marlies. Replying for St. John’s were rookie defenceman Brenden Kichton and veteran Andrew Gordon. Kichton and Gordon also drew assists.
The IceCaps opened scoring on Kichton’s sixth goal — his second in three games — 5:04 into the second period, but the Marlies got a late one in the middle frame when Ross teamed with former St. John’s Fog Devil T.J. Brennan and Stuart Percy for a power play goal with 39 seconds left on the clock.
The Marlies went up 2-1 1:49 into the third period when Ashton scored a shorthanded goal, the eighth goal the IceCaps have allowed this season while they’ve enjoyed the man advantage.
But Gordon drew St. John’s even four minutes later, taking a pass from Kichton and scoring his 10th goal on the year. It was Kichton’s sixth point in the past four games.
Drew MacIntyre turned in a first-star performance between the pipes for the Marlies, stopping 31 pucks as St. John’s outshot Toronto 33-20.
IceCaps 3, Bulldogs 0
At the Copps Coliseum, Kael Mouillierat, Carl Klingberg and Eric O’Dell netted the St. John’s goals. It was Klingberg’s fifth goal in the past seven games, and O’Dell’s team-leading 12th.
Mouillierat and Klingberg scored their goals in the second period, while O’Dell padded the lead just under four minutes into the third before 3,113 fans in downtown Hamilton, Ont.
St. John’s fired 39 shots at Dustin Tokarski.
The NHL suspended Winnipeg Jets forward Anthony Peluso for three games after his hit on Alex Goligoski of the Dallas Stars Saturday, which resulted in a boarding major and game misconduct. On top of that, the Jets announced Sunday that forward Matt Halischuk had surgery on a broken forearm suffered Saturday and will be out indefinitely. St. John’s IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said Sunday evening, “as of right now, nothing,” regarding any callups from the AHL club. By the time you’ve read this, that may have changed ... Speaking of the Jets, Bonavista’s Adam Pardy played Saturday, the first time since Nov. 23. He logged nearly 13 minutes of ice time ... Julian Melchiori, who had been listed as day-to-day on the injury list, returned to the IceCaps lineup Sunday after missing five games over a 10-day period ... To make way for Melchiori Sunday, Jordan Hill sat out ... Virtually all of the IceCaps are heading home or elsewhere for the holidays from Toronto, although Patrice Cormier and Carl Klingberg were scheduled to return to St. John’s ... The Molson Cup three stars Sunday were 1. Drew MacIntyre 2. Carter Ashton 3. Brenden Kichton. On Saturday, the three stars were 1. Jussi Olkinuora 2. Brenden Kichton 3. Dustin Tokarski ... The Mary Brown’s hardest working IceCap Sunday was Kyle MacKinnon, and Andrew Gordon got the nod Saturday ...