The St. John’s IceCaps have played through ten games in the American Hockey League as the top affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. After spending four seasons as the Winnipeg Jets affiliate with varried success, this season St. John’s appears to have one of the best teams statistically that we have seen here in Newfoundland. This article will effectively break down ten different aspects of the IceCaps season thus far through just ten games. The article will include projected stats to measure just how well this team has performed. Here are your IceCaps ten tidbits through ten games:
1. Head of the Pack
With a victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday night the IceCaps sat tied for first place overall in the Eastern Conference with 14 points. As well, the club has a lead over the Toronto Marlies for first place in the North Division.
2. Overall Record
The St. John’s IceCaps are off to their best start since their inaugural season with the Winnipeg Jets franchise back in 2011-12 when they posted a 5-4-1 record through their first ten games. In ten games this season the IceCaps have a record of 6-2-2 good for fourteen points. If the IceCaps can continue to keep this pace up they would finish with their best record statistically in their five years at Mile One Centre with 106 points. St. John’s best season was in 2013-14 when they put up 99 points as they made their way to the Calder Cup Finals. Last year the team only managed to get 75 points at the end of the regular season as they finished well below expectations.
3. Point Leaders
So far this season the IceCaps have two players who are currently in the league’s top 10 for overall points in scoring. Bud Holloway sits 2nd on the list with 13 points (4 goals – 9 assists) and Christian Thomas sits 8th (4-6). This is a welcoming stat as last season the IceCaps top performer was defencemen Will O’Neill who sat 46th overall on the list at the end of the season.
4. Point Producers
As just indicated, last season the IceCaps most productive player was defencemen Will O’Neil who put up 48 points in 72 games. The IceCaps players unfortunately struggled to score goals last years. Rookie Chase Balisy was the only IceCaps player to put up more than 20 goals. Balisy finished the season with 21 goals and 23 assists making him the most productive forward on the roster. Although highly unlikely, Bud Holloway is on pace for a whopping 97 points this season, while forward Mike McCarron is on pace to score 38 goals for the St. John’s IceCaps putting them far ahead of last years totals.
5. Share the Points
The IceCaps currently have two forwards with ten points on the season, and every regular player on the roster-except two-have atleast one point on the season for the club. St. John’s is also one of only two teams in the American Hockey League to have a point from both goaltenders as both Dustin Tokarski and Zach Fucale have an assist.
6. Light the Lamp
Last season, one of the biggest struggles which the IceCaps faced was generating offense as they had trouble putting the puck into the net. The team overall only managed to score 183 goals by the end of the year. However, this season St. John’s is currently second in the league with 33 goals and are on pace to score over 250 times.
7. Crowded Crease
This season the St. John’s IceCaps boast one of the hottest goaltending duos in the league as both Dustin Tokarski and Zach Fucale are projected to be top calibre NHL goaltenders of the future. The team has done a great job so far of rotating back and forth between the two creating healthy competition. However, Fucale has the better numbers of the two goaltenders with four wins and zero losses on the year and he has a 2.50 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
8. Special Teams
Through 10 games, the St. John’s IceCaps have scored on 5 of their 30 power play opportunities which sees them sitting 18th overall in the league. Meanwhile, the team has killed off 39 of the 44 penalties it has taken this season which results in 88.6 overall, placing them 7th overall in the league.
9. Speed, Passing and Heart
One of the biggest impressions so far this season are the skills which the IceCaps players possess that you cannot measure statistically. The young group of IceCaps players may be one of the fastest and best passing team to ever set foot on the ice in St. John’s. Each player can effectively dish the puck to another player and make it look simple. The speed of the players also makes it difficult for defending teams as the IceCaps forwards are often seen blowing past opposing defenders for the puck. Also, the heart and the never-say-die attitude of all St. John’s teams has bestowed itself within the IceCaps. One of the best examples was during Sunday’s home game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. With time running out on the clock and the IceCaps trailing by a goal, Mike McCarron managed to fight off Bridgeport players and tie the game with 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock to push it to overtime. This team is not accustomed to losing, and fans can be guaranteed the club will battle until the last second, literally.
10. Upcoming contests
The first 10 games of the season focused on a six game homestand which saw the IceCaps post a 4-0-2 record. The bulk of the next 10 games will be spent on the road as the IceCaps travel through New York and Pennsylvania. Fans in St. John’s will be treated to quite the battle as the Toronto Marlies-farm team of the Toronto Maple Leafs make their way to St. John’s on November 13th and 14th. As affiliates of the oldest rivalry in hockey-the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens-fans can expect sparks to fly between the two clubs. The IceCaps will also play the Hershey Bears, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Syracuse Crunch and the Rochester Americans over the next 10 games.