Forward lines and defense pairings:
[one_half]Matteau – Audette – Scherbak
Farnham – de la Rose – Friberg
Veilleux – Eisenschmid – Gregoire
Broll – MacMillan – Racine[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Brouillette – Hanley
Parisi – Lernout
Samuelsson – Didier[/one_half_last]
Scratches: Yann Danis, Brandon MacLean, Connor Crisp (undisclosed), Charles Hudon (undisclosed)
Injured Reserve: Martin Reway
The IceCaps were riding good momentum when they arrived in Syracuse for a New Year’s Eve tilt against the division-leading Crunch, and just 14 seconds into the game when gloves were dropped and scrums started popping up all over the ice it was clear that this game was not going to be friendly event.
In addition to the aggressive, physical nature of the game, which saw Nikita Scherbak, Josiah Didier, and Markus Eisenschmid all the victims of hard hits, the Crunch also keyed in on the back of the IceCaps net. Ten minutes into the opening frame found St. John’s trailing 4-0. Emotions in the building for both the teams and the fans ran high and it looked as though things could spiral out of control.
But in resilient fashion, Sylvain Lefebvre’s team rallied and showed tremendous character to stage a three-goal comeback before the first intermission. It started with a highlight reel shorthanded breakaway by Eisenschmid who dangled the puck in front of Adam Wilcox and shot it home to get his team on the board. Jacob de la Rose followed that with a power play goal just 21 seconds later, assisted by Max Friberg and Joel Hanley. Mark MacMillan found mesh a few minutes after that, and the IceCaps headed to the dressing room with energy and momentum.
Syracuse came back with two more goals of their own in the next period, as the St. John’s penalty kill struggled. Stefan Matteau dropped the gloves with former IceCaps captain Gabriel Dumont and immediately earned a game misconduct for his second fight of the game. St. John’s was already rolling with seven defenseman, so the loss of another forward was burdensome on a fatigued team. Daniel Audette brought the IceCaps back within two goals before the end of the second period.
The final frame brought more fights and plenty more penalties. De la Rose potted his second of the night, again on the power play, but the good news ended there. Scherbak took a couple of ill-timed penalties, and Bobby Farnham and David Broll found themselves escorted off the ice after getting ten-minute misconducts for unsportsmanlike conduct and continuing an altercation, respectively. Discipline went by the wayside and, despite a valiant attempt at a comeback to tie the game late in the third, an empty-netter by Syracuse sealed the fate of this game.
The IceCaps will next head to Albany to face the Devils before traveling to Binghamton and back to Syracuse next weekend.
▲ Markus Eisenschmid, Jacob de la Rose, Max Friberg, Yannick Veilleux, Josiah Didier