Klingberg leads St. John's IceCaps to second consecutive weekend series split

Robin
Robin Short
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St. John's IceCaps goaltender David Aebischer makes a save on a shot from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers David Ullstrom (24) as IceCaps defenceman Arturs Kulda (44) moves in to back up his goaltender during the teams' AHL game Saturday night at Mile One Centre in St. John's. At right, the Sound Tigers' Jeremy Colliton (21) tangles with IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray (rear). The IceCaps held on for a 4-3 win. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The Winnipeg Jets' return of Mark Scheifele to junior hockey Sunday isn't expected to have any affect on the St. John's IceCaps roster.

With one goal in seven games, the Jets sent the 18-year-old back to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, a team coached by a Winnipeg icon, former Jets star Dale Hawerchuk.

While the move would seem to open a roster spot on the Jets, Scheifele's spot in the lineup is likely taken by Ben Maxwell, who joined the Jets for their 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, his first game since suffering a pre-season injury.

On top of that, Kenndal McArdle is due to join the Jets, perhaps as early as tonight as Winnipeg plays host to the New York Rangers.

Further, Eric Fehr remains on injured reserve, but is skating without contact, and Ron Hainsey is set to join the club in seven to 10 days.

Aaron Gagnon is on the Jets' injured reserve, but is in St. John's, which is where McArdle could be destined.

So forget, for the moment, about St. John's losing players to Winnipeg. In fact, it's probably going to be the other way around.

Carl Klingberg, don't make any travel plans for Manitoba just yet.

The rookie from Sweden leads the IceCaps with six goals through six games, including a pair Saturday night as St. John's hung on for a 4-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to split their weekend American Hockey League series at Mile One.

"I can't think about that," said Klingberg, when reminded the Jets are averaging just 2.29 goals per game in the early goings of the new NHL campaign, ranked 20th of 30 teams.

"I'm here now, and this is where my focus is. I don't check the stats in Winnipeg. I don't care who scores the goals up there.

"My concern is St. John's."

Klingberg proved to be a Saturday Night Special once again with his pair of markers. On opening weekend against Hamilton, Klingberg netted the first hat trick in IceCaps' history en route to a 6-2 win over the Bulldogs last Saturday.

"I'm not going to score every game," said Klingberg, in response to the Jets fans' requests, via Twitter, for his recall to Winnipeg. "But I have character. I work hard, I forecheck, I backcheck.

"Of course, when I get a scoring chance, why not try to create something?"

"He finds a way to forecheck," IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said of Klingberg, his 20-year-old rookie from Gothenburg, Sweden. "He can skate ... he can move.

"For a first year guy, he's making real stepping stones."

The IceCaps managed to put away the Sound Tigers Saturday before 6,247, but not before making things interesting.

With one second to go in the second period, and the IceCaps leading 4-1, veteran Jeremy Colliton won the faceoff in the St. John's zone, drew the puck back to Matt Donovan who beamed a laser past David Aebischer.

Then, with 3:13 left in regulation time, David Ullstrom scored, leaving fans to wonder if it was Friday night all over again.

In the series-opener, St. John's lost 4-3 in overtime on Colliton's marker with 2:16 left in the extra session.

That goal came after Ulstrom scored on a scramble with just less than three minutes left in regulation time.

St. John's is 4-1-1 on the young season, with a couple of season-opening road victories, and a pair of wins after losses in the series openers.

So things appear to be in good shape, so far.

Except, there's this little matter with special teams ... the power play, to be exact.

Simply put, the IceCaps can't score with the man advantage.

St. John's is a putrid one-for-29 on the power play, with nothing to show in 24 chances at home.

"Good question," Klingberg replied when asked to try and explain what's going on. "If I knew, we'd be scoring goals."

So let's check in with McCambridge to see if he can offer any insight into the power outage.

"To start," he said, "we don't have any traffic in front of the net, we're playing on the perimeter, we're not penetrating through their defenders and we're holding on to pucks too long, playing keepaway."

McCambridge said he was encouraged with Saturday's power play, even though it went zero-for-four, including a 46-second span when St. John's had a two-man advantage in the third period.

He thought his troops did a better job on the execution end of things, and getting traffic in front of Bridgeport's goaltenders.

"We have to simplify things, and be tough to defend against," he said. "We have to penetrate, get traffic in front and look for the tips and screens."

The IceCaps are back at it Tuesday and Wednesday nights when the Portland Pirates visit Mile One for a pair of games, marking a return of St. John's native John Slaney, a Portland assistant coach.

NOTES: Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be in town for the pair of games against the Pirates ... Jason Gregoire scored his first professional goal in Friday's loss to the Bulldogs. Gregoire, a Winnipeg native, is a product of the University of North Dakota ... Jason DeSantis had a solid IceCaps debut Saturday, picking up a pair of assists. Rookie Eric O'Dell, from the Sudbury Wolves, also played very well in his first pro game Saturday, drawing praise from coach Keith McCambridge ... One of the healthy scratches Saturday was defenceman Paul Postma, regarded as one of Winnipeg's top prospects. Postma was minus-one Friday, and had his moments. Not that McCambridge was about to slag his player in print. "We've got a lot of bodies in the stands, guys who are working hard in practice, guys who are quite capable to stepping in." Earlier this season, McCambridge said if players are not playing up to speed, they can expect to sit ...

Organizations: IceCaps, Winnipeg Jets, Ontario Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes New York Rangers Bridgeport Sound Tigers American Hockey League NHL Portland Pirates University of North Dakota

Geographic location: St. John's, Winnipeg, Sweden Manitoba Gothenburg Bridgeport Portland

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