St. John’s IceCaps Season Review

A season to remember

It began as an all too regular regular season for the St. John’s IceCaps.

Up until January 2014, the IceCaps had a 16-13-3 record, including a mediocre 4-5-1 October record. It certainly didn’t give any indication that this team would play in the Calder Cup just a few short months later.

New Year, New Team

I’m not sure what they had to drink on New Year’s. But it worked.

Compiling a 30-10-4 record from January to April in the regular season (9-3 January, 8-3-1 February, 8-3-1 March, 5-1-2 April), the IceCaps secured fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a total of 99 points and a record of 46-23-2-5. They were headed back to the Calder Cup playoffs for the second time in their three year history.

Team Leaders

Goals: John Albert (28), Jerome Samson (27), Andrew Gordon (23)

Assists: Jason Jaffray (*41), Brenden Kichton (38), Andrew Gordon (34)

Points: Jason Jaffray (59), Andrew Gordon (57), Jerome Samson (56)

Wins: Michael Hutchinson and Michael Hutchinson (17/each)

GAA: Tyler Beskorowany (2.20)

Save %: Tyler Beskorowany (.932%)

Notes:

IceCaps rookie defenceman Josh Morrissey played well in his short time. He played just eight games during the final stretch of the season after reporting to the club from his junior team, and in 20 Calder Cup games he had 9 points….Eddie Pasquale was the starting goaltender up until February after having hip-surgery….Pasquale was traded on June 28th to the Washing Capitals….Michael Hutchinson poised to make the NHL. Was the starting goaltender for the IceCaps during the Calder Cup playoffs and after returning from the Jets call-up in April.

FULL TEAM STATS


Playoff Powerhouse

The IceCaps received the unknown team card in this year’s playoffs. St. John’s did not play three-of-four post season opponents during the 2013-2014 regular season. They defeated the Albany Devils in four games in the first round and moved on to defeat the Norfolk Admirals in six games. Round three saw the ‘Caps prevail against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in six games, however not without a fight. It was a penalty-filled series that included the Penguins first-ever post-season fight, and even a suspension of IceCaps defenceman Will O’Neill.

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson was the talk of the playoffs, posting an AHL-best 1.95 GAA, .938 save % and three shutouts. The IceCaps had played their second conference final in three years.

They had become the Eastern Conference Champions for the first time.

Just one series left to play. Just one series.

Almost, but not quite

For the first time since 1992, an AHL team from St. John’s, Newfoundland was back in the Calder Cup Finals, and they would be against the Texas Stars, the first place team in the entire AHL.

And much like the ’92 St. John’s Maple Leafs, it didn’t end the way they wanted.


“This one’s going to sting. This one’s going to hurt for a long time.”
–IceCaps Head Coach Keith McCambridge


Behemoth Nemeth

Lead by AHL MVP (regular season and playoffs) Travis Morin, and rookie Brendan Ranford, the Texas Stars defeated the St. John’s IceCaps in five games. With just 5:30 remaining in the first overtime period of Game 5, Stars defenceman Patrik Nemeth deked past Jordan Hill and finished off the series with a nifty top-shelf backhander over Michael Hutchinson’s glove. His first goal of the playoffs, his 5th career AHL goal.

And that was it. The AHL season was over.


 


Records set this season

Most points, one season: Jason Jaffray, 59

Most assists, one season: Jason Jaffray, 41

Highest Plus/Minus: Ben Chiarot, +29

Most PIM, one season: JC Lipon, 136

Most team wins, one season: 46

Most points: 99

Most Goals-For: 258


 


 

 


 

Notes: 
The Jets have a number of other players signed to entry-level contracts but who will not be age-eligible to play in the AHL next season. This list includes defenceman Josh Morrissey, goaltender Eric Comrie, undrafted forward Axel Blomqvist, and high-scoring WHL forward Nic Petan.

Scott Kosmachuk, Connor Hellebuyck, and Ryan Olsen will play with the IceCaps next season and make their pro-debuts.

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Conference Finals: IceCaps will face the Penguins

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The St. John’s IceCaps (4) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (6) will face each other in this year’s AHL Eastern Conference Finals.

This will be the second time these two teams have met in AHL playoff action – the IceCaps defeated the Penguins 3-2 in Game 7 in the 2012 Conference Semi-Finals. This will be the  second time the IceCaps play in the Conference Finals in their three year history.

The IceCaps ousted the Albany Devils in the first round in four games and defeated the Norfolk Admirals 5-2 in Game 6 last Friday to advance.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took care of the Binghamton Senators in four games in their first-round series as well, followed by a scary seven-game series versus the Providence Bruins. The Penguins lead the Bruins 5-0 with one minute left in the second period of Game 7 before the Bruins scored four straight goals to make things close.

A full preview to come on Friday; stay tuned. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CharlesMDart for all the latest St. John’s IceCaps and Winnipeg Jets news.


Western Conference Finals Set The first-seed Texas Stars and third-seed Toronto Marlies will commence the Western Conference Finals on Friday. The Marlies are undefeated as of yet in these playoffs, sweeping both the Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves. The Stars swept the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round then downed the Grand Rapids Griffins in five games.

Calder Cup Playoffs Preview: St. John’s IceCaps (4) vs. Albany Devils (5)

St. John’s IceCaps (46-23-2-5) vs. Albany Devils (40-23-5-8)

The St. John’s IceCaps and Albany Devils will face each other for the first time since March 27th, 2013 as they meet in the first round of this year’s Calder Cup Playoffs. The IceCaps took three-of-four meeting last season.

St. John’s:

Home: 23-10-2-3      Away: 23-13-0-2

The IceCaps are coming off their best season in franchise history, albeit a three-year history, with 99 points – a great season for any club. The IceCaps finished the regular season tied for fifth in the league with Grand Rapids, and were just behind Springfield (100), Chicago (100), Manchester (105), and Texas (106).

2011 12-pres St  John s IceCaps primary Logo Heat TransfersThe IceCaps saw several new players donning their logo this season, most notably high scoring forwards Jerome Samson and Andrew Gordon, goaltender Michael Hutchinson, and rookie defenceman Brenden Kichton. The IceCaps are a high scoring team and finished third in the league with 258 goals-for. Entering the playoffs, the IceCaps are 4-3-1-2 in their last ten games – the worst record of the sixteen AHL teams entering the playoffs this season – but are currently on a three game win streak.

2010 11-Pres Albany Devils Primary Logo Heat TransferAlbany:

Home: 24-9-3-2      Away: 16-14-2-6

Lead by Joe Whitney again this season, the Devils made a late push to get into the playoffs, recording a 6-2-1-1 record in their last ten games of the season. This is the first time the Devils franchise will make an appearance in the playoffs since 2009-2010, then known as the Lowell Devils, and just the third time since 2002-2003. Albany has just a +27 goal differential in the regular season and play a tight defensive game. They’re heading into the post-season on a five-game win streak, including a 5-2 victory over 2nd place Springfield in their season finale.



Head-to-head:

Special Teams: (Fairly) Even

Team

Season PK % Season PP % Home PK % Away PK % Home PP % Away PP %

Albany

82.7%  (14th)

16.2% (21st)

84.2% (14th)

81.6% (14th)

16.1% (22nd)

16.1% (16th)

St. John’s

83.5%  (9th)

18.1% (13th)

83.8% (15th)

83.3% (8th)

16.2% (23rd)

19.8% (8th)

If the last five games of the season are an indication of the first round, we’re not in for a special teams show. The IceCaps PP% during that time was 15% and the Devils was just 11%. In the same time their penalty kills are 85% and 76%, respectively.

Goaltending: St. John’s

With a combined record of 24-7-3, .928 sv%. this season, Michael Hutchinson and Tyler Beskorowany have provided a solid goaltending tandem. Hutchinson was re-assigned to the IceCaps after going 2-1-0 with a .964 sv% and 1.64 GAA with the Jets in the final few games of the regular season. Hutchinson has been 2-0 with a shutout in the AHL since being reassigned –  look for Hutchinson to start in the IceCaps crease. The Devils goaltending duo of Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood has played well, and picked up pace after a slow start. Kinkaid was 24-13-5-4 with a .912 sv% and 2.29 GAA. Wedgewood was 16-14-2-3 with a .899 sv% and 2.39 GAA. Kinkaid lost in a shootout vs. the IceCaps last season. Whether it’s Kinkaid or Wedgewood who gets the start for the series, either goaltender could steal the series.

Defence: St. John’s

The Devils will need more production from the back-end if they want to beat the talented, young IceCaps. The IceCaps have both a strong offensive and defensive corps in Brenden Kichton, Zach Redmond, Ben Chiarot, and Jordan Hill. Josh Morrissey, who has one assist in eight games with the IceCaps, will make his pro-playoff debut and should be a regular on the blue line. On the Devils side, watch for three strong twenty-one year old players in Adam Larsson, Reece Scarlett, and Raman Hrabarenka on the point, who are all producing around a point per two games in the AHL this year and have played well down the stretch.

Forwards: St. John’s

Up front the IceCaps have a great advantage. Captain Jason Jaffray paced the club with 59 points, a new franchise record. The IceCaps top three goal scorers, John Albert (28), Jerome Samson (27), and Andrew Gordon (23) scored 30% of the IceCaps goals this season with a combined 78 goals. Let’s chip in Kael Mouillierat who ended the season with 53 points in 60 games, and rookie JC lipon who had 42 points and 136 PIM.The IceCaps had five 20 goal-scorers and nine players with 40+ points. The Devils had just three players hit the 40-point mark and three 20+ goal scorers: Whitney (22), Sislo (23), and Boucher (22). Watch for Kelly Zajac, the younger brother of New Jersey Devils forward Travis, nineteen year-old Stefan Matteau, and Mattias Tedenby to produce for the Devils as well.


Prediction: St. John’s in 4.

Given the IceCaps are a superior road team – the fourth best in the league – the IceCaps are seemingly too powerful for the Devils, both defensively and offensively. The IceCaps have four strong, deep lines that can produce and overpower the Devils. However, if the Devils receive strong goaltending play from Kinkaid/Wedgewood and their four lines skate with the IceCaps, the Devils could push this series to five games.

Schedule:

Game Date Away Home Time Result
1 Fri, April 25th St. John’s Albany 7:00 EST
2 Sat, April 26th St. John’s Albany 7:00 EST
3 Wed, April 30th Albany St. John’s 6:00 EST
*4 Fri, May 2nd Albany St. John’s 6:00 EST
*5 Sat, May 3rd Albany St. John’s 7:00 EST

* = if necessary