Springfield too much to handle for IceCaps
Though the St.John's IceCaps were unhappy with their home-series pattern of taking two points every series throughout the first five of the year, they would easily have repeated that feat this weekend, given the choice.
The caps lost both games of the series over the weekend, Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, against the Eastern Conference-best Springfield Falcons (14-4-1-3).
It has to be said, Falcons goalie Curtis McElhinney (46 saves on Friday, 33 on Saturday) played his heart out and showed his NHL quality.
The Falcons also boast Ryan Johansen (of Canadian world junior fame), Cam Atkinson and Tim Erixon; all three of which could be expected up in Columbus in a typical season.
Regardless, the IceCaps put up a fight on both nights, rallying back in the third to tie the score at 3-3 on Friday, before Atkinson netted two to put them out for the night (one being an empty-netter).
Saturday, the game seemed more of an uphill battle for the IceCaps, thought there were positives to take from it (including a 2-for-5 PP and some inspired play from new faces).
Kael Mouillierat played well in his first series for the IceCaps, having signed a professional tryout with the team on Dec. 6. Shawn Weller, a (new) familiar face having played 41 games with the IceCaps last season, and Joey Sides, also didn't look out of place in their debut weekends.
Mouillierat, 24, has notched 27 points in 19 games this season with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. An AHL job would have been a near-certainty for Mouillierat sans-lockout, having put up 23 points in 44 games as rookie an AHL rookie for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last year.
Weller welcomed the opportunity to come back to St.John's: "It feels good to be back, but I wish we could have won the game tonight.”
The adjustment period is much easier, according to Weller, because he knows many of his teammates from last year and is familiar with his duties for the team.
McCambridge said after the game he was happy with the play of all three new additions, and expects them to battle for spots, even after the injury bug lets up on the IceCaps (among those injured are captain Jason Jaffray, NHLer Alex Burmistrov and steady offensive-contributor Eric O'Dell). The coach was also happy (on both nights) with his team's “push-back” in the third, electing to roll with a practically-identical line-up, aside from changing defender Julian Melchiori for Will O'Neill for Saturday's contest.
McCambridge said after Saturday's game: "I thought, in our third period, we had a real good push back again. Very similar game to last night. Our second period, we had some break downs, and it cost us in the back of the net."
Goalie Eddie Pasquale got the start Friday for the IceCaps, and could hardly be blamed for the loss, however, Mark Dekanich was given the nod to start on Saturday. Dekanich made some fantastic saves in the third to keep the IceCaps within striking distance, but the tying-push never came.
A welcome glimmer of hope, in the form of Paul Postma regaining his deadly form, was seen a few times on Saturday as the highly-touted defender continues to regain his confidence and his ability to be a game-changer.