IceCaps’ first big road trip receives passing grade

Robin Short
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St. John’s posts 3-3 record, return home to prepare for Monarchs next weekend

The St. John’s IceCaps escaped their first big test of the 2013-14 American Hockey League season even-steven, finishing with a split of an 11-day, six-game road swing through New England.
The IceCaps finished with a 3-3 record, and entered a five-day break Sunday with a 5-6-1 record in the Eastern Conference.

The Worcester Sharks’ Rylan Schwartz (right) moves in for a shot on St. John’s IceCaps netminder Eddie Pasquale during the teams’ American Hockey League game Saturday night at the DCU Centre in Worcester, Mass. The Sharks blanked the ‘Caps 3-0.

“I think we grew as a team,” St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge said about the IceCaps’ first road test of the season. “You can see our identity start to form, the work ethic is there and this team showed no quit.”

After stumbling through the first half of the trip 1-2 with a win over the Manchester Monarchs followed by back-to-back losses to the Monarchs and Providence Bruins, the IceCaps rebounded with a pair of wins over the Portland Pirates — 5-1 last Wednesday and 4-2 Friday — before falling 3-0 to the Worcester Sharks Saturday night.

“I liked those back-to-back wins (against the Pirates),” McCambridge said. “It was a real good win last week, and while we bent a little in the second game, we didn’t break.”

Friday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine, the IceCaps jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by J.C. Lipon, Jason Jaffray and Zach Redmond, making his first start on the year after missing the first 10 games because of injury.

Jaffray’s goal came while the IceCaps were shorthanded, while Redmond tallied on the power play.

The Pirates, however, made it a one-goal game in the second period on a pair of goals by Brendan Shinnimin — one of them shorthanded — but Eric O’Dell’s sixth goal of the season at 17:01 of the third period sealed the deal for the IceCaps.

Eddie Pasquale stopped 39 of 41 shots for his fifth win.

“Eddie’s been real good for us,” McCambridge said. “He’s giving us a chance to win games.”

Saturday night, the IceCaps travelled to the DCU Centre in Worcester for the first of 10 meetings against the Sharks this season, and it was the home team coming away with the win, thanks to Troy Grosenick’s 27-save shutout effort.

The Sharks were coming off a humiliating 7-1 home ice loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday night.

“They came out angry and with something to prove, but nonetheless I liked how we responded,” said McCambridge. “It was our sixth game in nine days, but the compete and work ethic was there.

“Thing is, we are playing the right way. There’s a lot of ice bags on the guys because they’re blocking shots and finishing checks.”

Daniil Tarasov scored the game’s first goal, and the winning goal, with six seconds left in the first period. Sena Acolatse and Curt Gogol added third-period goals.

Pasquale stopped 29 of 31 shots.

In the meantime, the IceCaps lost Redmond Sunday, not to injury but to recall as the Winnipeg Jets, hit hard by injury to the blueline, summoned the AHL all-star rearguard.

In return, the IceCaps received Ben Chiarot and Julian Melchiori from Winnipeg.

With Jacob Trouba (neck), Mark Stuart (hip) and Paul Postma (blood clot in his leg) all shelved by injury, the Jets tried to bolster their blueline with the addition of Keaton Ellerby, claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday.

The 10th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and a former Canadian world junior player, has two goals and 20 points in 160 NHL games with the Florida Panthers and Kings.

Chiarot made his NHL debut Saturday night, and it was a bit of a rough one as the 22-year-old from Hamilton, Ont. finished minus-three in a 5-1 Winnipeg loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chiarot saw 10:47 of icetime.

The IceCaps prepare this week for a two-game series with the Monarchs this weekend at Mile One Centre.

Organizations: IceCaps, Monarchs, Androscoggin Bank Colisee Winnipeg Jets NHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers Florida Panthers Chicago Blackhawks.Chiarot

Geographic location: Lewiston, Maine, Worcester, Hamilton Winnipeg

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