It may be of no real consolation to St. John’s IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge as he searches for ways to improve his team’s mediocre home-ice record, but he’s far from alone in his quest. Plenty of his counterparts in the American Hockey League are dealing with the same issue.
The IceCaps are 10-9-3 at Mile One Centre as they prepare for a six-game homestand that begins Friday night against the Worcester Sharks, giving St. John’s a points-percentage rating just above .500. And if you look at the record strictly in wins and losses, the Caps are 10-12.
It’s been a point of frustration for McCambridge and his players, especially when their home performance is compared to that on the road, where the IceCaps are a scintillating 17-7-0, the big reason why they are second overall in the AHL
St. John’s situation is not an anomaly, however. The IceCaps are one of 15 AHL teams — exactly half the league — who have more losses than wins at home this season. And that group includes some of the other top entries in the circuit: the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (8-9-4 at home), who are third overall, the seventh overall Houston Aeros (7-6-9) and eighth overall Abbotsford Heat (8-9-3).
In fact, as the AHL exits its All-Star break, road teams have won a total of 332 games this season, while 331 home wins have been registered.
McCambridge says he was surprised to learn about the overall league numbers, but was aware of the individual home records of clubs like Abbotsford and Houston. Those teams, like St. John’s, are on the edge of the league’s map, which means, like the IceCaps, they have home schedules that see them play visitors in back-to-back contests. Observers feel that may be a contributor to middling home-ice records, since its often the tendency of the teams to let up a bit or step it up a lot in the rematch game depending if they’ve won or lost in the opener.
McCambridge doesn’t degree with this assumption, noting it was something the Manitoba Moose dealt with during his time as an assistant coach with the that team. The Moose, like the IceCaps they’ve since become, also had back-to-back games against the same visiting opponent.
But McCambridge isn’t throwing up his hands in the face of historical data or current stats, and says its up to the St. John’s coaches and players to find a way to end the trend.