By Brendan McCarthy
The St. John's IceCaps ended their eight-game home-ice losing streak Friday night with a dominant 5-0 American Hockey League win over the Hamilton Bulldogs at Mile One Centre.
Aaron Gagnon and Eric O'Dell each had a goal and an assist for St. John's, while IceCaps goaltender Mark Dekanich stopped all 23 shots he faced in his first action since Feb. 26.
The game didn't have a promising start for the home side, what with defenceman Patrick Cullity, just 1:26 into his IceCaps' debut, taking an interference minor. But Gagnon opened the scoring just 10 seconds later with a shorthanded goal, extending his consecutive points streak to six games.
Kael Mouillierat, on a power play and O'Dell, with his team-leading 19th markerof the season, scored two minutes apart later in the opening frame, putting an early end to the night for Hamilton goaltender Robert Mayer, who got the hook after giving up the three goals on just six shots.
Mayer's replacement, Dustin Tokarski, made 24 saves on 26 shots.
The O'Dell goal also ended any thoughts of a repeat of last weekend at Mile One, when St. John's twice built up 2-0 leads against the league-leading Syracuse Crunch, only to wind up with losses.
Josh Lunden, with his first-ever AHL goal, and team captain Jason Jaffray, the latter on another power play, scored in the second period for St. John's (24-32-5), which will be looking for a similar winning result tonight (7:30 p.m. start) in a rematch with Hamilton (24-30-6).
Tonight's game will see the IceCaps wearing Kelly green uniforms for the St. Patrick's Day weekend. Of course, that means Hamilton is required to wear their white jerseysSo the Bulldogs wouldn't have to bring two sets of uniforms. it was reverse jersey night Friday, with St. John's wearing the solid blue it normally uses on the road .
Dekanich had watched as Eddie Pasquale played the first four games of the current homestand, but Pasquale was promoted to the parent Winnipeg Jets earlier this week ... It's not hard to identify the heritage or place of origin of Cullity (pronounced Kull-itty). The Tewksbury, Mass., native looks like he just stepped off the boat from Ireland and he speaks a heavy Boston-area accent ... Cullity already knows a member of the IceCaps' organization. That would be front-office intern Peggy Wakeham, the Bay Roberts native who like Cullity, attended the University of Vermont on a hockey scholarship ... With college and junior seasons ending, we're getting to the time of year when we'll start seeing organizational prospects and amateur tryout players trickle into AHL clubs. For the IceCaps, one of the first of such arrivals could be Vinny Saponari, who was a fourth-round pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008, three years before the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become the Jets. Saponari, a native of Georgia (the state, not the country), has just finished his collegiate career at Northeastern University, where he was a senior captain and finished second in team scoring (7-22-29 in 34 games). Saponari was once part of the U.S. national under-18 program, where one of his teammates was IceCaps forward John Albert ... Albert, Jason King, Ivan Telegin, Hunter Tremblay, Ryan Schnell are injured IceCaps ... Forward Norm Ezekiel and defenceman Cody Sol were healthy scratches for St. John's Friday, while defenceman Richard Petiot remains in Alberta after travelling there to be his wife after the birth of their first child ... Julian Melchiori, one of seven defenceman dressed for the IceCaps Friday, has two assists ... Recent arrivals Tomas Kubalik and Josh Godfrey each had helpers Friday, their first points for St. John's. Kubalik and Cullity were making their first appearances for the IceCaps after being acquired in the trade earlier this week, one that saw Spencer Machacek sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets' organization ...The Bulldogs lost veteran forward Mike Blunden on recall to the parent Montreal Canadiens Friday after Habs forward and Bonavista native Michael Ryder suffered a lower-body injury. Blunden is tied for second in Hamilton scoring behind Gabriel Dumont, already on recall to the Habs ... Another roster change for the Bulldogs saw defenceman Greg Pateryn returned from Montreal, while rookie rearguard Jarred Tinordi, the former first-round draft pick and son of ex-NHLer Mark Tinordi, went up to the big club ...Petteri Nokelainen played his first game of the season for Hamilton. A one-time first-round draft pick of the New York Islanders, the 27-year-old Finnish winger had spent all of last season in the NHL with Phoenix and Montreal, but hadn't played this season because of back problems ... Vincent Riendeau, who was once the goaltending coach for the AHL's St. John's Maple Leafs, is now doing similar duties for the Bulldogs and is in the Mile One press box this weekend. If you happen to run into Riendeau, ask him about his time in Russia, when he was the first former NHLer to play in that country's elite league, the predecessor to the KHL. They're too long to get into here, but his stories of his time in the Russian circuit are both funny and fascinating ...