Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates warming up before pre-season action.

AHL Eastern Conference notebook — Pre-season underway

Flick burns former team, Pasquale returns to Ice Caps, Fraser signs in Ottawa

The Toronto Marlies opened up their pre-season schedule Thursday with a 3-2 win over the St. John’s Ice Caps in Stephenville, N.L., in the first of three games to be played against the Caps before they return home to prepare for the start of the regular season.

They faced each other again on Friday night, with St. John’s winning 5-2 at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook, N.L., and again on Sunday at the Gander Community Center. St. John’s took last year’s regular season series over Toronto 3-1, however, that was a different team than the one wearing the Ice Caps jersey this year. For the 2015-16 season, St. John’s has replaced the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate with the Montreal Canadiens’ Hamilton Bulldogs while the Jets’ farm team has moved to Winnipeg and been named the Manitoba Moose. Watling scores deciding goal Patrick Watling scored the game-winning goal for the Marlies in the final minute of play on Thursday. 

Watling split time between the Marlies and the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears last season.  The 22-year-old had 11 goals and 14 assists in 24 games with the Bears and added two goals and one assist in his first 29 AHL games with Toronto.

In four OHL campaigns, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native scored 36 goals and 102 points through 187 games.

Flick shines against former club

As of Friday morning, the Springfield Falcons are the only Eastern Conference team yet to open its pre-season schedule as the other 14 teams started Wednesday and Thursday.

The Falcons will get started Friday against the Providence Bruins at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.  The Bruins dropped their opener 4-2 to the Portland Pirates Wednesday.

Scoring two goals in the win for Portland was former Providence forward Rob Flick.  The 24-year-old signed a one-year, two-way NHL contract with the Florida Panthers, Portland’s NHL parent club, in the off season after putting up career best numbers in the AHL last year. A London, Ont., native. he scored 19 goals and added five assists in 65 regular season games with Providence, his fourth professional hockey campaign. Pasquale returns to Ice Caps Eddie Pasquale makes his return to the Ice Caps after signing a one-year AHL contract with the team in the off season.  The 24-year-old netminder played three seasons with St. John’s from 2011 to 2014 while a prospect for the Winnipeg Jets. 

Pasquale spent last year as a member of the Washington Capitals’ organization, however, hip surgery prevented him from suiting up for a single game.

The Toronto, Ont., native returns to a team – now an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens – where he holds a number of records including most games played by a goaltender with 112.

In 2013-14 Pasquale finished with a 17-13-1 record. He boasted a career-high 0.920 save percentage and a second-best goals against average of 2.43.

Fraser released by Leafs, signs with Ottawa

Mark Fraser, a former Toronto Maple Leaf has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators. The six-foot-four defenceman will earn an annual salary of $800,000 while with the big club and $125,000 with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, Binghamton Senators.

The deal was signed just a day before Fraser’s 29th birthday and hours after the Leafs released the Ottawa, Ont., native from a professional tryout.

Fraser suited up in 34 games for the New Jersey Devils last season, recording four assists and 55 penalty minutes and added one goal, two assists, and 45 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Albany Devils.