IceCaps keep spinning their wheels

Robin
Robin Short
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St. John’s drops 2-1 decision to Hamilton Bulldogs, keeping with their trend of winning one, losing the next

As the IceCaps near the Quarter Pole of their 2012-13 American Hockey League season, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: St. John’s is very much a disappointing, middling hockey club.

Following the win-one, lose-one trend that’s dogged the IceCaps this season, St. John’s dropped a 2-1 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs Wednesday night at Mile One Centre, yet another loss following a win on home ice.

The IceCaps have yet to sweep a series at home, with two games remaining this Saturday and Sunday before St. John’s can say it is a quarter of the way through the season.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” said a puzzled Carl Klingberg, the IceCaps’ only goalscorer last night. “If we knew, we’d do something about it.

“We’re very aware of our record at home, and that we need to win both games. We’ve got to find a way to play consistently for 60 minutes.”

The loss sent the IceCaps to sub-.500 again at 8-9. Strange thing is, though, St. John’s is only a point out of first place in the Atlantic Division.

That standing, however, only masks glaring problems that exists through the early going this year: the IceCaps’ power play is brutal (zero-for-five last night, and ranking near the bottom in the entire league), they cannot consistently score goals, and there are too many allegedly key players in the Witness Protection Program.

Spencer Machacek, the team’s leading scorer last season, has gone a dozen games without a point. It’s 10 games and counting for Ben Maxwell. Aaron Gagnon hasn’t picked up a point this season. Paul Postma, the top defenceman and team MVP last year, was a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Consider this: the Bulldogs started Wednesday’s game second-last in the Western Conference, losers of five of their six road games; and last weekend, the Albany Devils arrived in St. John’s holding down last place in the Eastern Conference, but left Newfoundland with three of four points.

The IceCaps, it seems, are proving to be just what the doctor ordered for what ails weaker AHL teams.

St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge surprised more than a few Wednesday when he elected to start Mark Dekanich in goal rather than Eddie Pasquale, who was coming off a 45-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Bulldogs Tuesday.

But then, Buddy the Puffin could have tended goal for the IceCaps through the opening period and five minutes into the second when the Bulldogs managed all but two shots.

However, Hamilton came alive and Dekanich, to his credit, held the fort and finished the night with 23 saves.

Goaltending, clearly, is not the problem with the IceCaps.

Consider this stat, keeping in mind the Bulldogs scored twice in the middle frame Wednesday: St. John’s has been outscored 24-11 in the second this season, home and away.

“We’ve been an inconsistent team, and that definitely reflects on our second periods,” McCambridge said.

As they did Tuesday, the IceCaps got on the scoreboard first on Klingberg’s goal with 10 seconds left in the first period.

It stood that way until Michael Blunden finished off a two-on-one play caused by an ill-advised pinch by rookie St. John’s defenceman Will O’Neill at the Hamilton blueline.

Steve Quailer netted the game-winner with 24 seconds left in the second, a weird goal that saw the puck bounce off the end boards and land on the Hamilton player’s stick, as Dekanich was looking the other way.

The IceCaps are off today before they practice Friday in preparation for this weekend’s series.

On deck are the Providence Bruins. Oh yes, the Bruins are one of the lousier teams in the East this season, too.

rshort@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telyrobinshort

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, Bruins

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Whaddaya At ?
    November 22, 2012 - 21:06

    When the IceCaps have a man advantage, they should simply call it just that, not a ' power play ', because there's no ' power ' in their play when the team is 4 for 60. Also, are the IceCaps trying to set a league record for passing the puck around ?. They keep passing the damn puck until they lose possession or the penalty expires. It's not rocket science, IceCaps; that puck ain't gonna go in the net until a player shoots it on the net.

  • david
    November 22, 2012 - 11:33

    Spinning their 'wheels' ?!? Either the Tely needs a better sports reporter, or else the IceCaps need a new equipment manager. I'd pick the former.

  • Todd
    November 22, 2012 - 11:13

    This city does love the AHL - but it's a boring brand of hockey. It's like a library down at Mile One lately with fans struggling to stay awake. But with that said, I really hope the team turns it around (it's only early yet). And as for MAXNL's comments: this team has more talent than last season. I blame much of the PP woes on McCambridge these days. Throw away the playbook and try something new.

  • Don
    November 22, 2012 - 10:14

    Team not as sharpe as lasts years. Yet anyway. But it is still excellent hockey-- maybe better with more young NHLers on teams because of lockout. Team and support will be just fine . I have no problem with a sports reporter criticizing team-thats his job and this team needs criticizing now.

  • fan
    November 22, 2012 - 09:38

    robin short likes curling. nuff said.

  • Doug
    November 22, 2012 - 08:04

    The IceCaps organization and the team are popular in this city and province and that won't changethis season. However the players on the roster, the way the team is playing and the way Coach McCambridge is using the talent available to him is. The players need to wake up and smell the coffee and McCambridge needs to start putting the right players on the ice in the right situations! (ie. skill players on the ice on the PP and last minute situations, not pluggers!)

  • MAXNL
    November 22, 2012 - 07:52

    Sherrio, if you don't find this team to be disappointment, I'd suggest you're not a real fan. The Icecaps have been hugely disappointing this season. There's not much talent on this team, and the coach seems to have no clue how to use the little talent he does have on the roster. Peaked in year one, just like the Leafs.

  • Sherrieo
    November 22, 2012 - 07:08

    To the reported who wrote this story..get real..Games get lost..Ice Caps are not a disappointment..the people of this city..love the ice caps..even if you don't..

  • Mikey
    November 22, 2012 - 06:35

    Comments like those are going to rile up the Dannyman and his lapdog Glenn Stanford. More seriously, this situation is similar to when the baby Leafs were here, first year was solid and made it to the finals only to lose there. The following seasons were nothing but a decline.