Folks are coming from all corners of the continent to watch John Albert play for the St. John’s IceCaps.
OK, the folks in question are his aunt and his grandfather and his parents, but even if they didn’t possess the understandable familial bias, even if they were among the toughest critics of hockey players, they would have to like the way Albert is performing these days.
The rookie forward has been handed any number duties in his first pro season — energy forward, shutdown checker, penalty-killer and as of late, more of an offensive role. His stats are modest, six goals and 10 assists in 49 games, but he has a rating of plus-eight — third best among all forwards on the IceCaps — after a franchise-best plus-five showing in a 6-1 win over the Hershey Bears Friday night at Mile One Centre.
His grandfather, Red Albert, who resides in Naples, Fla., and his aunt, Jackie Albert, who is from San Francisco, are in town and witnessed the 23-year-old’s career game. They’ll be joined later this week by Albert’s parent’s, John Sr. and Cindy, coming from his hometown of Concord, Ohio.
“I’ve had tremendous family support ever since I started playing hockey,” said Albert. “My aunt and my grandpa have followed me for as long as I can remember, and obviously, my parents.”
Albert spent four years at Ohio State University and didn’t sit out a game during his collegiate career with the Buckeyes.
John Albert Sr., almost matched that record.
“My dad has missed a handful of my games in the last six or seven years,” said the younger Albert. “I think he made it to every college game, except for four.
“He drives a lot. I guess he enjoys driving. I know he did a lot of it for me for a long time. When I was younger, we used to drive three hours to Michigan for practice twice a week.”
The five-foot-10, 180-pound Albert is seen as a player with upside, although in a way, he’s still auditioning for consideration as an NHL prospect as he’s operating under an American Hockey League contract with the IceCaps.
As NHL deals with the parent Winnipeg Jets are freed up — organizations are allowed to have only 50 such contracts in force in a season — Albert will certainly merit consideration. But he says it’s not something he’s dwelling on, at least not now.
“I couldn’t tell you (what’s happening in that regard). I have no idea and honestly, I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I haven’t asked anyone about it, not even my agent.
“I just want to do what I can do for the St. John’s IceCaps and we’ll see what happens. I do know it’s easy to be your best when you have a great team, a great group of guys and 15 forwards who are so easy to play with.
“I mean, we have guys sitting out who can play on our top two lines,” continued Albert.
“So I’m just concentrating on what I have to do today.”
That includes getting a shave before Mom arrives on Thursday.
“I don’t think she’d mind too much if I kept it, but it’s coming off anyway,” he said.
The ALBERT FILE
Born: Jan. 19, 1989 in Cleveland, Ohio
Drafted: In the sixth round, 175th overall, by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007
Notes: Product of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Won a silver medal with the American entries at the 2006 World Under-17 Challenge and 2007 world under-18 championship... Attended the selection camp for the 2009 U.S. world junior team ... Played four seasons at Ohio State University and was a Buckeyes’ co-captain in his senior season ... Totalled 33-91-124 in 159 collegiate games for Ohio State ... Didn’t miss a game in his collegiate career ... Grew up in Concord, Ohio, a township east of Cleveland ... Has three older sisters ... According to his Ohio State bio, his childhood hero was former Indians first baseman Jim Thome ... Albert is said to be a very good 10-pin bowler, maintaining an average around 180 ...
from the IceCaps’ biographical info
Favourite pre-game meal: Chicken and noodles
Must-see TV shows: Storage Wars
Favourite hockey player growing up and why: Steve Yzerman. Exciting player to watch
Favourite off-season pursuits: Golf, vacation
If you weren’t a hockey player. what would you be: In the army
Favourite part of being a hockey player: Seeing new places and hanging out with teammates
Oldest piece of hockey equipment owned: Jock strap from 2007
Favourite ice cream flavour: Cookies and cream
Song, singer or band played the most on your iPod: Zac Brown Band
Favourite song to sing karaoke to: Ice, Ice Baby
First real job: Never had one until playing here