ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland and Labrador – The defining sound at Mile One Centre following the St. John’s IceCaps loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday was not a chorus of boos from the home crowd. Nor was it a Bronx cheer or mock applause from the fans in attendance. Instead, utter silence enveloped the stadium as the IceCaps players filed off the ice following their eighth straight defeat on home ice. This time, it was a 4-2 loss to the Crunch that left the fans in a mixed state of apathy and incomprehension.
The IceCaps have not won in St. John’s since Feb. 2. While all tickets are still sold for home games, empty seats are now popping up throughout the stadium, as some fans choose to stay away despite having already paid for their ticket.
The situation is not lost on IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge, who knows better than anyone that his team has to perform better for the fans that have embraced the club so strongly the past two seasons.
“It would be nice to give them something to cheer about. They come out and support us well, they fill the stands. It’s a good environment, it would be nice to reward them with a win,” McCambridge said. “It’s disappointing. You have to win games on your home ice. It’s beyond the point of just looking at Mile One. I’d like to win a game. I’d like to get two points.”
Losing eight consecutive games on home ice is a frustrating experience for the team’s players as well. Ideally, they want Mile One Centre to be hostile territory for visiting clubs. However, with the way the IceCaps have performed at home lately, Mile One has become a save haven for the away team, a friendly port in which to relax and collect a pair of victories.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said IceCaps forward Aaron Gagnon. “Our fan support is amazing and we really let them down lately.”
Saturday’s loss followed the usual script as the IceCaps enjoyed an early lead before ultimately falling to defeat. This time the club was up 2-0 after one period of play, only to watch the Crunch score twice in each of the second and third periods. The middle frame was especially tough to watch, as Syracuse outshot St. John’s 19-2.
“They picked up the pace of the game and we couldn’t match it,” McCambridge said. “We couldn’t keep up to the pace they set in the second period … They got better and we stayed the same.”
Gagnon scored both of the IceCaps goals in the first period, including a power play marker set up by Patrice Cormier. The Crunch used second period goals from Matt Taormina and J.T. Wyman to knot things at two, while markers from Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson in the third sealed the 4-2 victory.
Eddie Pasquale suffered the loss in net for the IceCaps, despite giving another strong performance. He made 31 saves on the night, including 17 in the second period. Riku Helenius earned the win in goal for Syracuse, stopping 23 shots in the process.
The game’s three stars were Wyman, Gagnon and Helenius, respectively.
Notes: Carl Klingberg was a healthy scratch for the IceCaps and was replaced in the lineup by Josh Lunden … Jason King, John Albert, Hunter Tremblay, Ben Chairot and Ivan Telegin sat out the game with injuries … IceCaps defenseman Richard Petiot missed Saturday’s game after travelling to visit his wife, who gave birth to their first child … There was at least one humorous moment for the home crowd Saturday when public address announcer Andy Newman credited Syracuse’s Brett Connolly with an assist on the IceCaps second goal. Fans gave a mock cheer when the mistake was corrected.
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