IceCaps’ coach focusing on positives as Hershey Bears arrive in St. John’s for two game set
The season is all but four games old, so we won’t read too much into the St. John’s IceCaps’ 1-2-1 record as they prepare to play host to the Hershey Bears this weekend.
Rather, instead of dissecting a 4-3 overtime loss to the Providence Bruins on opening night, and a pair of 3-2 and 6-3 setbacks last weekend to the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies, IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge prefers to look at the good things his charges are doing in the early stages.
© — Telegram File photo
The St. John’s IceCaps’ John Albert (left) and the Hershey Bears’ Garrett Mitchell battle for possession in a game last season in Hershey, PA. The IceCaps (1-2-1) welcome the Bears (0-1-1) to Mile One Centre in St. John’s for a two game series that gets underway tonight at 7:30.
“I think what you see, especially in the series against Providence, was a group with some push-back,” McCambridge said.
“When we’re behind, we dig and claw. We don’t give up, and I like that.”
In the IceCaps’ first American Hockey League game of the season, St. John’s staked Providence to a 3-1 lead, but rebounded with two goals — including one with 57 seconds left in regulation — to send the game into overtime.
An unfortunate circumstance — Will O’Neill’s shattered stick on a shot from the point — led to an odd-man rush and the eventual Bruins’ goal in overtime.
The next night, the IceCaps came back with a dominating 5-1 win.
This past weekend saw a one-goal result in Hamilton, and the next evening in Toronto, the Marlies jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 2:43 after the opening faceoff, but the IceCaps pushed back with three goals for a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes.
It was all Toronto after that, however, with two goals each in the second and third periods.
“We’ve got a good, hard-working base, with a mix of skill and we’ve started to see that come out,” McCambridge said.
“In two games, we’ve gotten down early but we’ve been able to fight back. In the case of the Toronto game, we just ran out of gas.”
Not that everything is perfect, mind you. The IceCaps’ goaltending has been okay — not great — and the defence has been suspect at times.
“On the road last weekend,” McCambridge said, “I thought we were a little too loose. There were too many Grade A scoring chances allowed.
“The D-zone was too loose for my liking.”
The blueline won’t be getting a boost from Zach Redmond this weekend. The all-star rearguard has yet to play a game this season because of injury, although he has been skating by himself in the mornings before the team hits the ice.
Another defenceman, Kris Fredheim, who played three seasons with the AHL’s Houston Aeros, also hasn’t suited up this season because of injury, although he is skating with the IceCaps, albeit in a red non-contact jersey.
Up front, the IceCaps will be without Patrice Cormier, who has been recalled to Winnipeg as reported Thursday in The Telegram. The Jets’ Evander Kane was hurt in practice Wednesday, and Chris Thorburn has been placed on injured reserve.
And rookie Adam Lowry is nursing a nagging injury and is unavailable to the IceCaps for tonight, at least.