IceCaps drop crucial home-stand to Hershey Bears

 

All the IceCaps want for Christmas is a win.

After dropping both games to the Hershey Bears Dec. 11 and 12 at home, the St.John's IceCaps are now on the bad end of a 5-game losing streak.

 

“We weren't good enough,” head coach Keith McCambridge said. “You can't come in and play against a team like Hershey, or any team, and think you're going to have any kind of success in the game.”

 

The IceCaps potentially played their worst home game of the season Dec. 12, as very little went right for the team.

“I didn't like our execution level, I didn't like our inconsistency from line-to-line and player-to-player with the compete level,” McCambridge said. “I can live with the last couple games, but I can't digest (tonight's game). That's not good enough for me.”

 

The head coach said the players need to turn the team's fortunes around, and to do so they will need to play better.

“No one is going to feel sorry for us. It's got to come from that room there and from those players in there. The way they played tonight, that's not going to get it done.”

 

IceCaps forward Aaron Gagnon has been on teams in a slump before, he says, but his personal point-drought is something new.

“The bottom line is we haven't been good enough,” Gagnon said. “It starts with every guy, myself included, (and) this obviously hasn't been the start to the year that I've wanted. We have got to find a way to get through these games here and to start putting some wins up.”

 

To Gagnon's credit, the home stretch against Hershey was his best two games of the season. Gagnon set up a beautiful should-be-goal, that hopped over Ben Maxwell's stick. After causing Hershey netminder Braden Holtby to commit, Gagnon back-passed to a rushing-in Maxwell, who couldn't settle the puck. McCambridge acknowledged Gagnon played well in the series, as well, and will surely be hoping the forward is ready to step up his production for the away-game stretch leading up to the holidays.

 

The Hershey Bears rode into town in good form, and have left with a 7-3 record in their last ten games, quite the opposite of the IceCaps' situation.

“We're starting to turn our season around the last couple of weeks,” Holtby said. “It was a big weekend for our character. For some reason, we're playing better on the road this year, but that's how it works sometimes.”

 

Looking forward, Holtby said consistency will be key for the Bears to keep themselves in the playoff picture.

“Through the year, we have seemed to take a few nights off, and that can't happen, especially in this league this year. Every team is strong. We're getting better with it.

 

The Washington Capitals prospect said he is starting to find his form after having a bit of a struggle of late.

“I felt pretty good,” Holtby said. “Last four or five starts, I hadn't felt like I should and I didn't know if it was my preparation or what. I caught a couple lucky breaks in the first period in both games, and as a goalie that is sort of what makes the difference.”

Holtby stopped 32 of 33 shots Tuesday night, and managed a 30-save shutout Wednesday.

 

Mark Dekanich started both games in a home series for the first time this year, and neither loss could be placed on his shoulders. The first period of Tuesday's game may have been his best period of home hockey this season.

 

The IceCaps managed just one goal in the series, reenforcing lingering questions about their production.

 

With Jason Jaffray and Jason King eyeing returns shortly, St.John's fans will be hoping that their combined veteran presence will be enough to right the ship heading into the holidays.

 

The IceCaps currently sit twelfth in the conference, three points back of eighth, but having played two more games.