IceCaps to camp close to home, will again face Crunch in pre-season

Brendan McCarthy
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In what's becoming an annual pre-season partnering of the St. John's IceCaps and the Tampa Bay Lightning's American Hockey League farm teams, the IceCaps will host the Syracuse Crunch for three exhibition games late next month.

The contests — two at Mile One Centre in St. John's (Sept. 26 an Sept, 29) and another at the Clarenville Events Centre (Sept. 28)— will come during the IceCaps' training camp, which will be held Sept. 23-29 in St. John's.

This is the third straight year that the Lightning's AHL affiliate has provided preseason opposition for the IceCaps. In 2011, the Norfolk Admirals, then Tampa Bay's affiliate, met the IceCaps in games at Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and at Mile One.

A year ago, it was the Crunch who travelled here after the Lightning made an off-season affiliation switch to Syracuse. At that time, preseason contests were held in Corner Brook, Stephenville and Clarenville.

In those cases, the IceCaps based their training camp outside of St. John's — in Gander in 2011 and Corner Brook in 2012.

Glenn Stanford, the IceCaps’ chief operating officer, sees the team going outside St. John’s for training camp again next year, in what would be a two-year cycle.

“Taking our team outside of St. John’s to other parts of Newfoundland is important to us.,” said Stanford.

“But logistically, it’s not easy  because we pretty well need to bring along our entire front office operations and staff to support the camp and the (pre-season games).

“But we believe going out the Central or the western part of the province every two years is something we can do.

“More than that, we think it is something we should do and something we need to do.”

The IceCaps-Crunch pre-season get-together has succeeded partly because the Lightning see the trip to Newfoundland as an excellent bonding experience for its farmhands at the start of the season, but came about largely because of the relationship between Tampa Bay assistant general manger Julien BriseBois and IceCaps' chief operating officer Glenn Stanford, who had once worked together on the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs.

Nevertheless, Stanford suggest that the pre-season visitors may be different next year.

“It’s not to say it won’t be Syracuse again, but this will probably be the last year for a while,” said Stanford,  who added the IceCaps had  looked at the possibility of bringing in the Bulldogs, the farm club of the Montreal Canadiens, or the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ AHL team, this year before sticking with the Crunch.

Start time for the Thursday, Sept. 26 game at Mile One will be 7 p.m., while the Saturday, Sept. 28 matchup in Clarenville is at 5 p.m.

The Sunday, Sept. 29 contest at Mile One has a 4 p.m. start.

Thursday’s game is open to the general public, with tickets prices at $10 (plus tax and surcharge) for IceCaps season-ticket holders and $15 (plus tax and surcharge) for everyone else. Tickets for this game go on sale Saturday, Aug. 24.

A select number of tickets will be given away through a contest conducted by Mary Brown's, sponsors of the Mary's Cup, which the IceCaps and Crunch will compete for in their series. Norfolk won the Cup in 2011, with Crunch maintaining the visitors' hold on the trophy last year.

 

Special school game

Sunday’s contest has been designated as a ‘school game,' with all tickets being distributed to St. John's metro region junior high students. Ticket purchase will take place within the school system. This game will feature educational messaging on the video-board throughout the contest and all in-game elements will be student-focused.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in everything from the official puck drop, to singing the national anthems and making in-game announcements.

Tickets for the Clarenville contest are available exclusively through Mary Brown’s. Fans can secure free tickets by entering on-line at www.winwithmarybrowns.com or by visiting their local Mary Brown’s restaurant for more information.

The IceCaps' NHL parent, the Winnipeg Jets, haven't announced their training camp dates yet, although it is known the Jets will play eight exhibition games between Sept. 14 and Sept. 27

The IceCaps open their 2013-14 AHL regular-schedule at home on Oct. 4 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, Tampa Bay Lightning Clarenville Events Centre Winnipeg Jets

Geographic location: St. John's, Clarenville, Tampa Bay Corner Brook Syracuse Newfoundland Norfolk

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