Late last month, the St. John’s IceCaps passed the one quarter mark of their season, a quarter that was full of ups and downs. There have been some surprises on the back end and in goal which is where we start our grades.
Players must have played in at least 5/19 games to receive a grade.
Zach Fucale: C+: As a result of Carey Price’s injuries with Montreal, Fucale has been thrust into the #1 role for most of the season so far. Not surprisingly, there has been a mixed bag of results. Some nights he has dominated while others he has struggled mightily and there has been more of the bad than the good; he sits 45th in GAA and 38th in SV% through 19 games. With Price to miss several more weeks, Fucale will need to string together a stretch of good performances before long.
Stats: 11 GP, 6-2-2 record, 3.32 GAA, .900 SV%
Dustin Tokarski: D: At the beginning of the year, I thought Tokarski would be able to provide St. John’s with top notch goaltending. Like Fucale, there was some good and bad but more of the latter and as a proven winner at this level, that’s not good enough. He’ll need to be better as the backup with Montreal with Price out.
Stats: 6 GP, 2-2-2 record, 3.45 GAA, .891 SV%
N/A: Eddie Pasquale (only 4 GP but he’ll likely play more in the near future with Tokarski up in Montreal)
Mark Barberio: A: He was brought in to be a #1 defenceman and Barberio has done exactly that. He led all AHL defencemen in assists through the first quarter of the season while he has logged a very high number of minutes due to limited depth behind him. If injuries strike at the NHL level, Barberio is very likely ahead of Jarred Tinordi in the pecking order.
Stats: 19 GP, 1 goal, 16 assists, 17 points, +3 rating, 15 PIMS, 34 shots
Morgan Ellis: A: I wasn’t a fan of the decision to bring him back but Ellis may make a believer out of me yet. He has fit in quite well with Barberio on the top pairing and has held his own when shifted to his off-side while some of his offensive prowess from his time in the ECHL last season has carried over as he leads all IceCaps’ blueliners in goals. He has been one of the more pleasant surprises this year.
Stats: 19 GP, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, +10 rating, 29 PIMS, 34 shots
Darren Dietz: B-: Dietz hasn’t been bad but for his third pro season and on a blueline lacking in talent, he hasn’t really stepped up much. As has been the case with a few defencemen, Dietz has been inconsistent which has really hurt any chances he might have had for moving up the lineup. Instead, he has largely been entrenched on the second pairing with a wide variety of playing partners.
Stats: 18 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, -2 rating, 8 PIMS, 27 shots
Brett Lernout: B-: Lernout has held on to a spot on the third pairing pretty much all season which is a positive in itself as a rookie blueliner. The tough, physical play he was known for in junior hasn’t been there but as is often the case with rookies, he is being asked to play safe first and foremost, something Lernout has struggled with at times. He’s having a slow start but I suspect he’ll step up as the year progresses.
Stats: 18 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -7 rating, 6 PIMS, 13 shots
Joel Hanley: C: Hanley has flip-flopped between the second and third LD spot for a good chunk of the season while also sitting some nights. Basically, he has been the typical depth defender which is likely what he was signed to be in the first place. Unlike some of the past depth defenders in recent years, at least he’s not a walking trip to the penalty box.
Stats: 15 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, -1 rating, 0 PIMS, 13 shots
Mac Bennett: C-: With the weak depth on the left side, a full-time top four spot was Bennett’s for the taking. So far, he hasn’t taken it. Instead, he has spent a good chunk of time on the third pairing and even as a seventh defenceman. He needs to be better.
Stats: 16 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +1 rating, 4 PIMS, 12 shots
N/A: Josiah Didier (4 GP), Greg Pateryn (3 GP), Dalton Thrower (3 GP), Jarred Tinordi (1 GP)