St. John’s hosts Providence Bruins tonight
There’s much that could happen (or not happen) over the remaining 10 weeks of the American Hockey League regular season, but as it stands, with 37 points in 45 games, St. John’s IceCaps’ defenceman Brenden Kichton is on pace for a 62-point first pro season.
To put that in perspective, the AHL record for points by a rookie rearguard is 66, set by none other than St. John’s native John Slaney with the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1992-93, and that was during an 80-game season; the league schedule has since been scaled back to 76 games.
More than a third of Kichton’s points to date came in January, when he had three goals and 11 assists, along with a plus-six rating, in 12 games as he helped St. John’s to a 9-3-0 record for the month.
For that performance, the AHL has named the 21-year-old Edmonton native as its CCM/AHL rookie of the month for January.
It’s the second recent league recognition for Kichton; a week ago, he was added to the AHL roster for the All-Star Classic next week at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
Kichton and the IceCaps (26-16-3) are back on the ice tonight as they host the Providence Bruins at Mile One (7:30 p.m. start). With six straight wins, St. John’s will be looking to set a team record for consecutive victories.
Two of the six wins in the IceCaps’ current streak came on the road against Providence (23-19-6), which has gone 3-7-0 in its last 10 games to fall out of playoff position in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
This will be the first of four games — all at home — in less than six days for the IceCaps in advance of the AHL All-Star Classic next week in St. John’s. They’ll play the Bruins again Wednesday night and then welcome the Worcester Sharks for matchups Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Getting back to Kichton: He sits second overall among all AHL defencemen in scoring, trailing only Toronto Marlies’ rearguard and former St. John’s Fog Devil T.J. Brennan (19-27-46), and is third in AHL overall rookie scoring, trailing only forwards Curtis McKenzie (16-27-43) of the Texas Stars and Ryan Strome (10-30-40) of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Kichton has a ways to go if he hopes to challenge Slaney’s AHL rookie defenceman record of 20 goals in a season, but he’s right on pace to equal the league mark for assists by a first-year blueliner, which is 47, set by the Hershey Bears’ Mike Gaul in 1997-98.
With 28 helpers through 45 games, Kichton’s pro-rated total for a full 76 games would be 47.222.
Notes: Since the IceCaps’ two wins at Providence in late January, the P-Bruins received forward Ryan Spooner and defenceman Zach Trotman from the parent team in Boston. However, on Monday, David Warsofsky, Providence’s top-scoring defenceman, was called up by Boston, which won’t have captain Zdeno Chara for games Thursday and Saturday. That’s because the big blueliner will be carrying the flag for Slovakia in Friday’s opening ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics ... Veteran Nick Johnson (16-20-36) is the leading scorer for Providence ...