Two weeks into what is still a young regular season, the St. John's IceCaps' are an even 2-2-0-0, tying them for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Providence Bruins. The IceCaps' now set their sights on the Portland Pirates, whom they host for back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thankfully, I have tickets four rows off the glass for these guys, which is exciting since Oliver Ekman-Larsson (who's already up to 5 points in three games) will be on the ice for the Pirates. Considered one of the best upcoming defensemen in the NHL, watching OEL head-man Portland's defensive unit should be a treat to watch. And he isn't alone; the Pirates will also dress David Rundblad, Maxim Goncharovand Brandon Gormley to patrol the blue line. That's an awful lot of young talent.
Rundblad landed with the Phoenix Coyotes by way of trade. He was dealt from the Ottawa Senators for Kyle Turris last season, dressing for 24 games in Ottawa beforehand. By seasons' end he had registered 16 points in 30 games for the Pirates. Gormley, the 13th overall pick in 2010, is plying his trade as a rookie. Most recently he posted 32 points in 35 games in the QMJHL, splitting time between Moncton and Shawinigan.
Even with the high-flying breadth of youth on their back-end, the Pirates haven't exactly been playing the most complete game up to this point, posting a record of 1-2-0-0 while scoring 14 goals and giving up 16 against. Both goalies -- Mark Visentin and Chad Johnson -- have started off poorly (sub .880SV%) but the tandem could be due for a good outing this week.
Up front, the Pirates are led by NCAA grads Chris Conner and Andy Miele. Conner is an AHL veteran who already has 4 goals and 2 assists in three games this season. Miele, 24, notched 54 points in 69 games last season in what was his AHL rookie campaign.
Mark Dekanich will start in net tonight for the IceCaps'. Both of this weeks games start at 7:30PM in Newfoundland, 6:00PM EST. Tune in to www.thisisnewfoundlandlabrador.ca, where Brian Rogers will have the call.
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