In what might very well be a preview of a forward who could take over Kevin Clark’s role as a designated energy player, the St. John’s IceCaps have recalled Norm Ezekiel from the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles.
His stats line with Colorado shows the arrival of Ezekiel, who turns 22 next month, shouldn’t be expected to address the team’s need for scoring — he has just one goal and no assists in 27 games with Colorado. What does jump out are his penalty-minute total: He has 112 PIMs, most on the Eagles, even though he's missed 23 games because of injuries.
“His energy and his work ethic,” answered St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge when asked what stood out about the five-foot-eight, 180-pound Ezekiel, who attended the team’s training camp in Corner Brook last fall.
“He can skate. He’s got speed. He plays with an edge.”
Proof of the last line might be found in the fact that he already has 10 fights in his first pro season, almost all of them against players considerably larger than him.
Ezekiel, who played two seasons with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, first caught the attention of those inside the Winnipeg Jets’ organization who were following the progress of Jets’ draft choices Mark Scheifele and Ivan Telegin with Barrie. He was invited to a summer prospects camp in Winnipeg, and as a result of his showing there, was signed to an AHL deal with St. John’s.
Ezekiel saw some action as a defenceman with the Colts and there was some consideration of using him in the same role with the Eagles, who have an injury-thinned blueline. However, according to McCambridge, he’s been used exclusively as a forward in Colorado.
The IceCaps’ training camp represented somewhat of a homecoming for Ezekiel, who is from Innisfil, Ont., near Barrie. His father Wayne is from Corner Brook, and he still has plenty of relatives on the west coast of the province, including his grandmother Phyllis, who lives in Massey Drive.
And even though he was born and raised in Ontario, Ezekiel was actually baptized in Corner Brook.
Ezekiel could see his first action with the IceCaps (22-28-3) tonight as they take on the Connecticut Whale (25-21-6) tonight in Hartford. It’s the fourth game of a six-game road trip for St. John’s.
Clark, who left the IceCaps last week to sign with Germany’s Krefeld Penguins, has one assist and a plus-one rating in his first two games with the DEL club ... Ezekiel takes the roster spot of winger Ryan Schnell, lost for six weeks with a knee injury suffered Sunday in a 6-1 loss to the Portland Pirates. He is the fifth player recalled by St. John’s from Colorado this season, joining Schnell, defenceman Cody Sol, and forwards Joey Sides and Ray Kaunisto. Sol is still with the IceCaps, while Sides and Kaunisto are back with the Eagles ... Forward Shawn Weller, who was with the IceCaps when he broke a finger in December, has recovered and is back playing in the ECHL, but this time with the Stockton Thunder. Weller’s rights were recently traded to Stockton by the South Carolina Stingrays ... After watching Chris Carrozzi go the distance against Portland on Sunday, Mark Dekanich will get the start in goal tonight for St. John’s against the Whale, the farm team of the New York Rangers. Dekanich, who hasn’t registered a win since Dec. 21. Dekanich has appeared in only six games since the Christmas break, playing just over 180 minutes in that time. He got the early hook in two of his last three starts ...Hartford is where Dekanich recorded his first win as an IceCap, making 35 saves Oct. 14 as St. John’s edged Connecticut 3-2 ... Veteran forward Ben Maxwell has been a healthy scratch in the IceCaps’ last two games. Also missing from those games were defenceman Derek Meech (concussion-symptoms) and Ben Chiarot (hip flexor).