Two struggling teams face off tonight in one of five games on the AHL schedule, as the Hamilton Bulldogs host the St. John’s IceCaps in a 7:30 pm meeting.
• Hamilton: 20-26-1-5, 46 pts — 111 GF, 159 GA, 6-4-0-0 in last ten
• St. John’s: 23-29-1-2, 49 pts — 132 GF, 168 GA, 3-7-0-0 in last ten
The Bulldogs sit at the bottom of the Western Conference; they have scored the fewest goals this season, but have allowed less goals than seven other teams in the league.
After winning four consecutive games from February 9-16, the Bulldogs have flip-flopped, first losing to Rochester 2-0 in a Family Day/President’s Day afternoon matchup.
Following that, they defeated the Americans 3-2 on Friday in a special meeting at the Bell Centre in Montreal before dropping a 2-0 decision to Milwaukee on February 24.
Since being acquired from Syracuse, goaltender Dustin Tokarski has appeared in four consecutive games, going 2-2 in that stretch and allowing seven goals on 108 shots against.
The Bulldogs have won five of their last eight games – impressive, but the three losses have all been shutouts.
Center Gabriel Dumont leads the Bulldogs in goals, assists, and points; he has 30 points (15-15) in 50 games. Five of Dumont’s 15 goals have come on special teams.
Right wing Mike Blunden and rookie center Michael Bournival each have 18 points, while rookie defensemen Nathan Beaulieu has 16 points (4-12) on the year. Zack Stortini leads Hamilton with 180 penalty minutes.
Tonight’s game is the ninth of a ten-game homestand, which will finish when the Bulldogs host Binghamton on March 1.
St. John’s sits 14th in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of the last-place Adirondack Phantoms.
The team has struggled this month, winning four games of 11 so far. Tonight’s game is the final game of the month for the IceCaps, who are coming off a 5-4 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Prior to that, they defeated Connecticut 5-1 on February 20.
Left winger Jason Jaffray leads the IceCaps with 30 points, while center Eric O’Dell leads the team with 16 goals. Center Kael Mouillierat leads the team with 19 assists, while Derek Meech leads IceCaps defensemen with 21 points in 45 games.
Eddie Pasquale is 14-19-2 this season, with 920 saves on 1,009 shots faced. He has a 2.63 GAA and .912 save percentage. Mark Dekanich has appeared in 22 games for St. John’s and has a 3.20 GAA and .892 save percentage.
Tonight’s game marks the end of a six-game road trip for the IceCaps, who return home for a pair of games against Manchester this weekend.
Tonight’s game is the fifth of eight meetings between the Bulldogs and IceCaps this season, with each team having won a pair of games so far.
St. John’s took the first meeting, a 3-1 victory at home on November 20 before Hamilton took the next game 2-1 on the following day. The IceCaps won the next meeting, a 2-1 win in Hamilton on December 21, before the Bulldogs took a 6-3 victory on December 28.
One notable player who won’t be in the lineup tonight is Brendan Gallagher; the Bulldogs right winger had a point in each of the meetings to date (2g, 2a) but is now up with the Montreal Canadiens club.
Following tonight’s game, the teams meet twice in St. John’s in mid-March before facing off once more in Hamilton on April 19 to close out the season series.