IceCaps battered as they try to snap streak
They're still trying to clinch a spot in the American Hockey League playoffs, but the battered St. John's IceCaps will have to deal with an additional challenge this week when they visit the Norfolk Admirals.
The Admirals haven't lost a game since Super Bowl Sunday — that's 20 straight wins, the longest streak in AHL or NHL history.
"It's remarkable," said IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge. "For a team to fire on all cylinders like that and to not come up against a hot goalie or have injuries themselves or all of the above is pretty impressive."
But it's also a chance for the IceCaps to see where they are as the regular season winds down.
"You look to hopefully end their streak," said McCambridge. "You hope to learn something about your team and your players right now. It should match up to be a really good game."
St. John's is coping with injuries as well as the loss of players to the their NHL affiliate in Winnipeg. About 10 regular players are missing with the latest being No. 1 goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who's day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
"We've got a pretty banged up team right now but we're slowly getting some players back," said captain Jason Jaffray.
The IceCaps get two shots at ending the streak, which has carried the Admirals to the top of the league standings. The teams meet Wednesday and Friday at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
Jaffray says it would be a great confidence booster for the battered IceCaps.
"We've kind of been a measuring stick for a lot of teams this year to kind of see where they're at," said Jaffray. "Now we're kind of using them as a measuring stick to see where we're at building up to the playoffs here."
The IceCaps are coming off a win Saturday over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but winning in Norfolk would take their confidence to a new level.
"Any team that wins 20 games in a row obviously has to be hands-down favourites going into the playoffs," said Jaffray. "To be able to beat these guys and break the streak would be huge for us."
It would be even more significant to do it with a lineup heavily peppered with stand-ins, he said.
The Admirals have locked up their playoff spot but St. John's needs perhaps a couple of wins to clinch a berth. They are hanging onto one for now because they are leading their division.
"I believe that's the number, the magic number," McCambridge said of the need for two more wins. "I haven't had a chance to look too closely, I'm just looking at the next game and trying to get points."