BRAMPTON, ON — The first year AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, the St.John’s IceCaps are off to a good start through their first 14 games of the season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with a 7-5-1-1 record for 16 points. Part of the IceCaps early success this season has largely been in part to some of the new faces that either made the jump to the professional ranks or signed this past summer with the Canadiens or the IceCaps organization.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the IceCaps early success is goalie Zach Fucale who is 5-2-0 so far in his seven games, helping his team pick up 10 out of a possible 14 points. Fucale has been mostly solid in his first professional season, although has a middling goals against average of 3.10 and a save percentage of .906 so far. Meanwhile he even chipped in offensively with one assist. The Canadiens 2013 2nd round draft pick has shown his ability to match up to the professional game so far, he will likely only get better as the season moves along.
George “Bud” Holloway, the 27-year-old former third round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, who is back playing in North America for the first time since the 2010-11 season, is the current leader in assists with 11 and points with 15 through the first 14 games. Holloway really impressed while playing overseas in Europe for four seasons signing a one-year, two-way deal with the Canadiens on July 1st.
Holloway was given a chance to crack the deep Canadiens lineup in training camp, however he was unsuccessful in doing so and was sent to the AHL where he has taken on a bit of a veteran role for the young IceCaps team. Holloway brings a ton of leadership to the IceCaps lineup and overall makes them a much better team. Holloway could be a call up later in the season for the Canadiens if injuries occur, however for now, the leading scorer of the IceCaps remains put.
Two first year professionals in Michael McCarron coming out of the Oshawa Generals organization and Nikita Scherbak out of the Everett Silvertips organization are proving that not everyone’s adjustment to the professional game is a difficult one. Big Michael McCarron is in a tie for third in IceCaps scoring with 11 points in 14 games, including six goals so far on the year while being tied for 18th in AHL scoring on the season. Big Mac is a very intimidating presence when he is on the ice, so far this season he has shown he is not afraid to shoot the puck or play his style which is great news.
Nikita Scherbak on the other hand has had a pretty pedestrian start to the season. In eight games he has three points and is a minus-5. For Scherbak, the adjustment to the professional game, speed and play hasn’t been the issue, it has been some injuries have kept him out. Once he gets back to being fully healthy, he will find it easier to play his skilled game and the points will start to come.
Daniel Carr, Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon were pegged as players who could have a shot to crack the Canadiens roster out of training camp as well, with two of them being full second year professionals. The trio are all off to good starts this season.
Daniel Carr who had 24 goals last season for the Hamilton Bulldogs is second in team scoring with 12 points in 14 games. Charles Hudon, who was named to the AHL’s all-rookie team last season with 57 points in 75 games, is off to a solid start with 10 points in 14 games.
Lastly, there is diminutive Swiss forward, Sven Andrighetto, who is now playing in his third professional season. In his first season, Andrighetto registered 44 points; last season he tallied 43 points in 40 games. Andrighetto has started this season with nine points in 14 games.
For the IceCaps, these three – two of which were Captain and Assistant Captain at the Rookie Tournament in September – are all being watched closely by the Canadiens and their fans. They figure to be among the top call-ups for the Canadiens if there are any injuries. These young leaders are at the forefront of a, so far, successful St. John’s team in it’s first year as the Habs AHL affliliate.
The IceCaps boast prospects that the Canadiens can afford to wait on. The fact that the Canadiens can afford to let these prospects play together for a long period of time, to grow and learn together, is huge. It also gives the Canadiens management time to really see what type of players they have in the AHL and even in the ECHL with their ECHL affiliate, the Brampton Beast. With the talent the Canadiens organization boasts, the IceCaps figure to be competitive this season. A young, hungry team that can really do some damage this season, the Canadiens know success is paramount in the AHL and ECHL to create a winning environment for these prospects to grow from and translate into success at the next level.
The St.John’s IceCaps next play the Toronto Marlies on Friday, November 13th at home and the Brampton Beast with the likes of Angelo Miceli, Tim Bozon, Mark MacMillan and more next play the Saturday, November 14th vs the Elmira Jackals.