Even without the National Hockey League in operation, it’s taken less than eight weeks for the St. John’s IceCaps to reach bottom of what was a fairly deep AHL roster.
On Thursday, the IceCaps announced they’ve recalled forward Joey Sides from the Colorado Eagles.
The 26-year-old winger, who becomes the first player promoted from the ECHL to the IceCaps this season, was needed after sophomore forward John Albert was injured in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, N.Y. That was the first game of a busy three-game road trip that continues in Albany against the Devils tonight and finishes with a Saturday-night contest with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
IceCaps’ head coach Keith McCambridge says Albert “has been playing at only about 80 per cent” since being hit from behind in a game against the Portland Pirates earlier this month. He did miss one game as a result of that hit, but has suited up in the last eight contests for St. John’s. However, after every appearance, he could be seen in the Icecaps’ dressing room, covered in ice bags.
“We’ve actually sent him back to St. John’s for the doctors to look at him,” said McCambridge. “We’ve reached the point that we have to do what has to be done to get him back to 100 per cent.”
Albert joins Jason King, Patrice Cormier, Hunter Tremblay and Travis Ramsey as infirmed IceCaps. Eric O’Dell, who hasn’t played in a week-and-a-half, is travelling with the team, but, according to McCambridge, there “was a strong question mark” attached to the young centre’s availability for tonight’s game.
The IceCaps could have gone with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defenceman against Albany — they did so in two games last week — but have chosen to bring in the five-foot-11, 185-pound Sides, one of five players in Colorado who are signed to AHL contracts with St. John’s.
“We’ve heard good reports on him,” said McCambridge of Sides, a native of Sun Valley, Idaho who has recorded nine goals, 18 points and 36 penalty minutes in 19 games with the Eagles.
“He’s putting up good numbers and plays the sort of game we are looking for in a third- or fourth-line left-winger. Plus, he’s a tough guy to play against.”
Goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who has been the first star in the IceCaps’ last two games — a 6-0 win over the Providence Bruins at Mile One Centre on Sunday and Tuesday’s decision against Adirondack — will make his fourth straight start in goal tonight as St. John’s (10-9-1) looks to fashion its first three-game win streak of the season.
The Devils are 4-7-5 and in last place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference.