Thank You, St. John’s

Photo: www.stjohnsicecaps.com

An era in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador has come to an end on Friday night. After winning the first game in a best-of-five first round series, the St. John’s IceCaps lost three straight to be eliminated from the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

At the OneCenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York, former Montreal Canadiens centre Gabriel Dumont put the puck past Charlie Lindgren to win the series. That goal would put an end to the IceCaps season, and American Hockey League (AHL) hockey in Newfoundland – for now.

Montreal comes to St. John’s

The Montreal Canadiens organization has had a footprint in the city of nearly 110,000 for the past two seasons. It was a crazy day on March 12th, 2015. Michael Andlauer, the owner of the Canadiens AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs had sold the team back to the Canadiens. He then immediately bought the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) to bring to Hamilton under the same Bulldogs name.

March, 2015 was not done yet. The Winnipeg Jets brought their AHL affiliate – the St. John’s IceCaps closer to home where they re-branded as the Manitoba Moose. As the Habs looked for a new home for their AHL team while the new arena was being built – they took Winnipeg’s spot in St. John’s for the time being.

Over the course of two seasons, the Montreal Canadiens edition of the St. John’s IceCaps finished with a record of 68-63-16-5. In 152 regular season games, they had scored 424 goals and given up 459.

After missing the playoffs in 2015-16 by a mere 12 points, the IceCaps clinched the final Eastern Conference playoff spot in 2016-17. Their playoff run would end in the first round with a 3-1 series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate (Syracuse Crunch).

The American Hockey League has been in St. John’s for 20 years, the last two with Montreal. Several top prospects have had the opportunity to play there including Charles Hudon, Michael McCarron, Nikita Scherbak, Jacob de la Rose, Charlie Lindgren, Zach Fucale, and many more.

With an average attendance of 5,717 in 2015-16 and 4,103 in 2016-17 (via HockeyDB), Newfoundland and Labrador has been a wonderful place for hockey.

Thank-you St. John’s, for allowing our favourite hockey organization into your beautiful city for the last couple of seasons.

Future

Looking to the future, the Montreal Canadiens’ eighteenth American Hockey League affiliate in franchise history will be based in Laval. After a long time of speculation, the Habs officially announced in July, 2016 that they would be bringing their affiliates closer to home in time for the 2017-18 season.

After a fan vote to name the team, “Laval Rocket” won with 51 percent of the vote.

The Rocket will play out of Place Bell in Laval, Quebec. Seating 10,000 and at a construction cost of approximately $200-million, the brand new multipurpose sports facility will be a reason for excitement in the region.

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2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #6 Charlie Lindgren

Undoubtedly the IceCaps’ MVP this season, Lindgren solidified himself as a top prospect in the organization. The AHL All-Star was superhuman throughout his first 20 games, inconsistent through January and February, but superhuman once more to close out the season. In addition to grabbing two NHL wins, it was an interesting case study on the […]

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