IceCaps hope to find providence in Rhode Island

Brendan McCarthy
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St. John’s eliminates added travel time by staying State-side until first-round series vs. Albany Devils starts

It’s a road trip bridging the regular and post-seasons.    
Rather than come home for a few days before beginning their first-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Albany Devils, the St. John’s IceCaps will forego any back and forth by plane this week.

St. John's IceCaps

“We’ve been beat up so bad this year with our travel, with delays and missed connections, that we decided it wasn’t worth the possibility of it happening now with us going home and travelling back here again,” said IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge.

McCambridge was speaking Sunday, the day after his team wound up its 2013-14 American Hockey League regular-season schedule with 5-4 win over the Portland Pirates in Saco, Me.

Their best-of-five opening-round series begins with games Friday and Saturday nights in Albany, but the IceCaps didn’t travel directly to the New York State capital from southern Maine on Sunday, instead heading to Providence, R.I., where the team will practise over the next couple of days.

“We’re going to break it up, staying in Providence for the first half of the week, then moving to Albany,” said McCambridge. “The reason is that we know from spending as much time on the road as we do, that staying in one place for an extended period means things can get stale pretty quickly.

“That’s something we want to avoid.”

Interestingly, the Devils are one of three Eastern Conference teams the IceCaps did not play in the regular season, the Norfolk Admirals and Adirondack Phantoms being the others. In their first three years in the AHL, the IceCaps have had a regular-season schedule that had them not facing two or three teams in the conference, the non-opponents being selected on sort of a rotating basis. This season, it happened that Albany had a turn in that rotation.

A week or so ago, that didn’t seem to be much of a concern for St. John’s (46-23-7), which was pretty much a lock as the fourth playoff seed in the conference, meaning it would face the fifth seed in the first round. Just 10 days ago, the Devils were a longshot to finish fifth in the conference. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Binghamton Senators and Providence Bruins were far more likely opponents for the IceCaps..

But the Devils won their last five games, while the Penguins and P-Bruins stumbled a bit down the stretch. Meanwhile, Binghamton, even though it had fewer points than St. John’s, wound up as the third seed by finishing first in the East Division. (The division winners in each conference earn the top three seeds for the playoffs; the IceCaps finished second to Manchester in the Atlantic Division).

“For the last while, Albany was always one of the four on our list as a potential opponent,” said McCambridge, “To be honest though, the order we were considering, in terms of who would we would most likely face (in the first round), was 1. Wilkes-Barre, 2. Binghamton, 3. Providence and then Albany.

“But the scenario worked out that that with Albany winning Saturday and everyone else losing, we would play the Devils.”

While their first-round matchup might be a mild surprise and a feature less-than-familiar foe, the IceCaps will be well-prepared for Albany, according to McCambridge.

“We have all the information we need,” he said. “We have video and we had scouting staff watching all the teams we could potentially play, including Albany. So we’re ready for them.”

And there can be some information carry-over from the 2012-13 season, when the Devils, coached by Rick Kowalksy, and IceCaps squared off four times.

“It’s the same coaching staff as last year, so there obviously will be some similarities in the way they play this season,” said McCambridge. “But we’re breaking down the video already and we also see some differences in the way they played last season.”

What McCambridge and his assistants have also learned is that the Devils (40-23-8) will be a tough opponent, especially with the presence of players like forwards Stefan Matteau and Mattias Tedenby, and defencemen Adam Larsson and Jon Merrill, who all spent considerable time with the parent New Jersey Devils, but will be available for the AHL post-season since New Jersey didn’t make it to the NHL playoffs.

Then there is the swift and skilled Joe Whitney, Albany’s two-time leading scorer, and a strong goaltending duo in Keith Kincaid (2.29 goals-against average) and Scott Wedgewood (2.39 GAA).

“I see a Albany as a team with a lot of speed up front and I see Albany as a team with big, strong defencemen on the back end,” said McCambridge.

“Everybody I’ve talked to says this is an excellent team.

“That’s not a surprise. You look at our conference, 1 to 8, even 1 to 9, with Hershey not making it (into the playoffs), there have been a lot of top-end teams. From everything we’ve been told, and from what we’ve learned in our preparation so far, Albany is definitely one of them.”

Games 1 and 2 are at the Times Union Centre in Albany Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26, with 8:30 p.m. NT start times. The IceCaps have home-ice advantage in the series and will utilize it on the back end, with Games 3, 4 and 5 — the latter two if necessary — at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Wednesday, April 30; Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3.

Games at Mile One will begin at 7:30 p.m. NT.

Record breaking season for IceCaps, players

The real measure of the campaign will be whatever success they achieve in the upcoming Calder Cup playoffs, but there’s no doubting that  the St. John’s IceCaps had a very good 2013-14 American Hockey League regular season.

The IceCaps (46-23-7) set team records for regular-season wins (46), points (99) and points/winning percentage (.651). As well, there were numerous individual standards that were set, beginning with team captain Jason Jaffray’s 59 points.

Heres’ a list of some of the records that were set in St. John’s just-completed 76-game regular-season schedule (old records are in brackets):


Wins: 46 (43, 2011-12)

Points: 99 (95, 2011-12)

Fewest regulation losses: 23 (25, 2011-12)

Fewest overall losses: 30 (33, 2011-12)

Home record: 23-10-5 (20-15-3, 2011-12)

Goals scored: 258 (240, 2011-12)

Goals against: 207 (216, 2011-12)

Penalty minutes: 1,318 (1,241, 2012-13)

Team shooting percentage: 10.5% (9.6%, 2011-12)

Penalty-killing: 83.5% success rate (82.8%, 2011-12)


Points: Jason Jaffray, 59 (Eric O’Dell, 55, 2012-13)

Assists: Jaffray, 41 (Jaffray. 33, 2012-13)

Power-play goals: Jerome Samson, 11 (O’Dell, 10, 2012-13)

Shorthanded goals: John Albert, 6 (led AHL) (Jaffray, 3, 2011-12)

Penalty minutes: JC Lipon, 136 (Garth Murray, 112, 2011-12)

Plus-minus: Ben Chiarot, +29 (Arturs Kulda, +18, 2011-12)

Shots: Samson, 214 (Ben Maxwell, 173, 2012-13)


Points: Brenden Kichton, 48 (Carl Klingberg, 37, 2011-12)

Assists: Kichton, 38 (Zach Redmond, 23, 2011-12)


Points: Kichton, 48 (Paul Postma, 44, 2011-12)

Assists: Kichton, 38 (Jason DeSantis, 32, 2011-12)

A few other statistical notes:

• The IceCaps had five players (Albert, Samson, Andrew Gordon, Klingberg and Kael Mouillierat) with 20 or more goals this season. Only the league-leading Texas Stars, with a half-dozen 20-goal scorers, had more.

• Along with the Abbotsford Heat and Binghamton Senators, the IceCaps had nine players (Jaffray, Samson, Gordon, Mouillierat, Albert, Klingberg, O’Dell, Kichton and Lipon) with 40 or more points. It would have been 10 had Kyle MacKinnon had one more point.

• Had he appeared in one more game, goaltender Michael Hutchinson’s 2.30 goals-against average and .923 save percentage would have been new IceCaps record. However, 25 appearances is the official cutoff and Hutchinson played in 24.

Organizations: IceCaps, New Jersey Devils, American Hockey League Portland Pirates Penguins East Division NHL Times Union Centre

Geographic location: Albany, Rhode Island, Providence New York State Southern Maine Wilkes-Barre Providence, R.I. Binghamton Manchester New Jersey

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