Nfld. & Labrador

So long, IceCaps: Final regular-season game tonight at Mile One Centre

The St. John's IceCaps are playing their final regular-season game tonight at Mile One Centre.

Playoff spot on the line tonight for St. John's

This could be the final weekend of AHL hockey in St. John's. (CBC)

It's the end of an era for AHL hockey in St. John's.

The St. John's IceCaps — the farm team of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens — is playing its final regular season game tonight at Mile One Centre before the team moves to Laval, Que.

"It'll be really sad that there won't be any AHL team here," Piper Jones, co-host of a hockey podcast and girlfriend of IceCaps player Josiah Didier, told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

We're hoping that these guys will give us a good playoff run so that we're around for a lot longer.- Glenn Stanford

"It'll be a last hurrah for Newfoundlanders as well. We have just a whole mix of feelings. I know some people are pretty upset about it. So it's bittersweet."

Jones moved to St. John's two years ago when Didier's team took residency at Mile One. While here, she pursued a master's degree in folklore at Memorial University and did a lot of studying in the field.

"I've had an amazing time. I have a surrogate family now in Change Islands — my new mom and dad, don't tell my birth parents," she said.

"And I've eaten a lot more moose than I thought I would."

Fighting for a playoffs spot

The IceCaps are competing for a playoffs spot tonight, battling it out against fan favourites the Toronto Marlies. Toronto won Friday night's game 5-3.

"When we did the schedule last July these two games were not here by chance," Glenn Stanford, chief operating officer of the St. John's IceCaps, told CBC's Here & Now.

"We asked the American Hockey League to make sure that we finished with Toronto … it's the franchise that started here back in 1991, and the Montreal Canadiens are the franchise that finished here in 2017. So it is fitting."

If they win, the IceCaps could entertain the St. John's crowds for another few weeks.

"We're hoping that these guys will give us a good playoff run so that we're around for a lot longer," Stanford said.

The Montreal Canadiens are moving their affiliate AHL team, the St. John's IceCaps, to Quebec for the 2017/18 hockey season. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Jones also hopes the team will make the playoffs; she'll be cheering them on every step of the way.

"When it gets down to these last few games it's very scary when you're sitting in the stands and you care about the people on the ice, because they're sacrificing their bodies," she said.

"I think what you're supposed to do when you're a good wife or girlfriend of a hockey player is just sit there quietly. But I'm a sports fan, and I've always been. So I scream things at my boys and I want them to win."

Future of hockey in St. John's

The current trend in the American Hockey League is to have farm teams close to their NHL partners, Stanford said.

The geography of St. John's has proven to be an obstacle.

"Both myself and Mr. Williams have made a commitment here over the last year that we're going to try to find another tenant for this building and we've been aggressively trying to pursue that," Stanford said.

Though he's known for almost a year that the team would be moving to Quebec, Stanford has been hopeful he could find a replacement. But it won't be an AHL team.

"We've erased the fact that [the] American Hockey League is an opportunity here, that's not going to happen. Junior hockey might be a possibility. We're working hard on that," Stanford said.

"It's been wonderful, but there are other opportunities out there so let's explore what the other opportunities are and see what the future brings."

With files from the St. John's Morning show and Here & Now