In an ironic way, the fact St. John’s IceCaps’ head coach Keith McCambridge’s use of the phrase “we had passengers,” when dis- cussing his team’s 5-1 loss to the Binghamton Senators Tuesday night could be seen as a good thing — at least in a context view of the entire season. Even McCambridge couldn’t recall having used those words in any previ- ous public post-game comments, which is sort of a testimonial to the IceCaps’ consis- tent effort through the first two-thirds of the 2011-12 American Hockey League campaign.
But the rarity of that particular observa- tion was probably of small consolation to McCambridge Tuesday night in Binghamton, N.Y., where the Eastern Conference-leading IceCaps were hewed, planed and shellacked by the AHL Senators, who may be the defending Calder Cup champions, but are also occupiers of the base- ment in the conference.
“Definitely, credit is due to Binghamton,” said McCambridge when asked if he felt the Senators had raised their level of play in light of their lofty-stting opponents
“They came out hard and played well.” And he acknowledged the contribution of acquired by the parent Ottawa Senators in a weekend trade with the St. Louis Blues. Bish- op, who had been with the Blues’ AHL farm team in Peoria, made 41 saves in his debut with Binghamton. “You could see where he gave his team a spark after the trade deadline,” said the St.John’s coach. But those were small allowances by McCam- bridge. When it came to the chief factors in this particular result, the things the Senators and Bishop did were — in his estimation — distant runners-up to what the IceCaps didn’t do. “We didn’t look rusty, I don’t think,” he said of his team, which had last played Friday in a 3-2 shootout losss to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
“We had a couple of passengers in the line- up. We can talk about other teams raising the level of their game when they play us. We can talk about the depth we have on our team. But that depth means nothing when every- one is not going in a game.”
When asked if he had used the “passen- gers” phrase before this season, McCam- bridge answered that there were games when “a guy” fit the description.
“But tonight, we had a percentage of guys who would probably like to put this one behind them,” he said.
What’s more, in some cases he felt there was a carry-over from Friday’s loss to the Bulldogs when “we had a couple of personnel who didn’t have a strong game.”
Mike Hoffman scored twice for Binghamton (22-30-4), while Corey Locke had a goal and two assists.
Derek Grant and Pat Cannone also tallied for the Senators.
Kenndal McArdle was the lone scorer for St. John’s (33-14-7), which went zero-for-seven on the power play against the league’s worst penaltykilling team.
Eddie Pasquale stopped 34 shots for the IceCaps, who next play Saturday in Syracuse against the Crunch.
Forward Spencer Machacek was IceCaps broadcaster Brian Rogers’ choice as St. John’s hardest-working player ... Scratches for the IceCaps were defenceman John Negrin, veteran centre Garth Murray and rookie forwards Jason Gregoire and Eric O’Dell.