St. John's head coach Keith McCambridge has repeatedly said he likes the will his team has demonstrated in recent games, including Tuesday night's American Hockey League game against the Hershey Bears at Mile One Centre.
Nevertheless, the IceCaps are still struggling to find a way, as in the way to win.
Goaltender Braden Holtby made 32 saves Tuesday as the Hershey Bears won 2-1, handing St. John's a fourth straight loss and a third straight setback at home.
Jon DiSalvatore and Tomas Kundratek scored for the Bears (12-12-1). Zach Redmond replied for the IceCaps (11-13-1). All three goals were fashioned on the power-plays, with DiSalvatore's coming on a five-on-three advantage in the first period.
Redmond got his team-leading seventh goal in the middle frame, while Kundratek scored the game-winner in the opening minute of the third on a blast from the point.
Netminder Mark Dekanich of the IceCaps made 20 stops, including a save-of-the-year candidate when he dove across the crease to rob the Bears'' Zach Hamill of what seemed to be a certain goal in the first period.
St. John's outshot Hershey 33-22 overall, including 24-12 over the final 40 minutes, but the offensive struggles the IceCaps have dealt with much of the season continued. Despite the diligence they displayed Tuesday, it marked the 13th time in 25 games this season that they've been held to two or fewer goals.
"I'm disappointed for the guys to not be rewarded for the effort they put forth," said McCambridge after the game.
There were two fights just over a minute apart in the opening frame. The first saw the IceCaps' Kevin Clark tangle with the Bears' T.J. Syner, followed by a step up in weight class as Ray Sawada of St. John's took on Patrick Wellar of Hershey.
"We don't really like them, and they don't like us," said Sawada, who confirmed that what looked to be a chippy game was that indeed.
"A sucker punch in the face, a cross-check here, a face-wash, an eye gouge here," he said, listing some of the goings-on in the trenches.
St. John's lineup featured the same 18 skaters used in its last outing, a 4-2 loss to the Springfield Falcons Saturday at Mile One. That means defenceman Cody Sol, just recalled from the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, did not play.
But Sol will be dressed tonight in a rematch with the Bears as McCambridge goes with 11 forwards and seven defencemen out of necessity. That's because the IceCaps' injury list has reached double digits as Shawn Weller, only recently brought in from the ECHL as an injury replacement, became casualty No. 10. He suffered a broken finger Tuesday.
Tonight's game is the last at home for the IceCaps in 2012. On the weekend, they begin an eight-game road trip, split by the Christmas break (five games before, three after).
Tuesday's Coors Light three stars: 1. Holtby 2. Dekanich 3. DiSalvatore … Kundratek and DiSalvatore lead the Bears with eight goals each ... Hamill and Bears' leading scorer Jeff Taffe each had two assists ... St. John's GM Craig Heisinger, the assistant GM of the parent Winnipeg Jets, is taking in this series. So is Doug Yingst, the long-time president of the Bears ....