In their last home game of 2012, th St. John's IceCaps didn't deliver any presents to their fans at Mile One Centre Wednesday night.
But they did serve up a turkey.
The IceCaps dropped their franchise record fifth game in a row, falling 4-0 to the Hershey Bears. The last four losses in the streak have come at home, including a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Bears on Tuesday.
Wenesday's game marked the 54th regular-seaon sellout for the IceCaps, tying the second-best mark in the history of the American Hockey League. But unlike Tuesday's game and the two before it — weekend setbacks at the hands of the Springfield Falcons — the Mile One fans didn't see a spirited effort by the home side.
Neither did IceCaps' head coach Keith McCambridge,
"You've got to ...make sure you're ready to go. You've got to make sure you're winning loose puck battles and playing with some sort of edge," said McCambridge, "playing the (type of) game like a man needs to play the game, not the way that we played portions of the game tonight."
Zach Hamill scored the first — and would hold up to be the game-winning — goal for Hershey (13-12-1), sconnecting on a power-play in the last minute of the opening period.
Alex Berry, Matt Beaudoin and Jon Disalvatore scored in the second period for the Bears, who got another solid effort from goalie Braden Holtby, who made 30 saves for the shutout. Mark Dekanich faced 25 shots ifor St. John's (11-13-1), which sits last in the AHL's Atlantic Division.
Therewas one lineup change for the IceCaps frrom Tuesday, with defenceman Cody Sol, recently recalled from the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL, making his IceCaps debut. Sol replaces forward Shawn Weller, who broke a finger when hit by a teammate's shot in Tuesday's game.
Sol won't be the only Colorado player joining St. John's this week. Forwards Ray Kaunisto and Ryan Schnell have been called up from the Eagles as St. John's prepares for an eight-game road trip, that will be divided by a four-game Christmas break.
The ECHL recalls are necessary for an IceCaps team that has 10 injured players — forwards Jason Jaffray (shoulder), Jason King (concussion), Hunter Tremblay (concussion), John Albert (upper body), Patrice Cormier (knee), Eric O'Del (ankle)l, Weller and Alex Burmistrov (unspecified), along with defencemen Julian Melchiori (broken finger)and Travis Ramsey (broken fingers) That left St. John's with 18 healthy bodies — 11 forwards and seven rearguards for Wednesday's game.
It also marked the first time this season St. John's wasn't able to put out 19 players, as league rules permits, for a pre-game warm-up skate at home.