Blank BullDogs at home
The St. John’s IceCaps showed no mercy in a 6-0 drubbing of the Hamilton Bulldogs Wednesday night at Mile One Centre.
Spencer Machacek recorded the second IceCaps hat trick in less than a week and Jason Jaffray notched three assists as St. John’s (38-16-5-2) avenged its loss the previous night to earn a split of the two game series with Hamilton. Eddie Pasquale made 12 saves in securing his third shutout of the season, and 20th win of the year.
It was a game in which the home team outshot the visitors 47-12. The IceCaps also managed to stay out of the box, registering just one minor penalty while capitalizing on two-of-six chances with the man advantage. It was a far cry from the previous night’s performance, in which the IceCaps were outworked and outplayed in a 4-2 loss.
St. John’s dominated right from the opening faceoff, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Bulldogs goaltender Nathan Lawson. Machacek got St. John’s on the board at 15:18 of the opening frame when he spun and fired a backhand towards the front of the net from the corner, banking it in off a skate for a 1-0 IceCaps lead.
Less than two minutes later, a pinching Zach Redmond took a great feed from Carl Klingberg and ripped a wrist shot past Lawson high on the glove side, making it 2-0 heading into the first intermission. Machacek added his second of the game eight minutes into the second period. Jaffray spotted the IceCaps leading scorer cutting in cross-ice and delivered a tape-to-tape pass that Machacek redirected into the back of the net for a power play marker.
Then, at 11:07, Machacek completed the hat trick with a highlight-reel tally on a similar play. After Jaffray made another perfect pass cross-ice, Machacek outwaited Lawson and slipped around the netminder, cutting back in front to stuff home the backhander. The three-goal game was his first as a pro, and first since his junior days four years ago.
Aaron Gagnon capped off the second period scoring at 15:25 with his 10th of the season. Jason King’s hard work forced a turnover down low, and his pass out front bounced off a Hamilton defender and onto the stick of Gagnon, who buried the IceCaps’ fifth marker of the night. Jason Gregoire added his fifth of the season early in the third when he redirected Kevin Clark’s attempt from the corner to make it 6-0.
St. John’s has now won seven of its last eight home games and climb to 83 points overall this season. The club’s magic number to clinch its first playoff berth is 10 points.
Next up for the IceCaps is a two-game set with the Manchester Monarchs this weekend. St. John’s is a perfect 5-0-0-0 versus its divisional rival this season, including a two-game sweep at Mile One Centre back in early January.
IceCaps fans will be treated to different jerseys this weekend. Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day when the club will wear commemorative green jerseys. Those will be presented to fans following the contest in the IceCaps’ Shirt Off Their Backs promotion. Sunday, the club wear will wear their road blue jerseys in a reverse jersey contest.