IceCaps trio finds a spark in their chemistry test

Robin Short
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New top line combination of Jaffray, O’Dell and Klingberg yielding immediate results

St. John’s IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge opted to shake up his lines a bit in the third period of Saturday’s Eastern Conference semifinal Game 3 against the Norfolk Admirals.
Provide a little spark, explained McCambridge.
Turns out that spark set off a four alarm fire Monday night, as the line of Jason Jaffray, Eric O’Dell and Carl Klingberg combined for seven points as the IceCaps sank the Admirals 5-1 for a commanding 3-1 series lead heading into last night’s Game 5.

McCambridge has been consistently rolling four lines through the American Hockey League’s post season, the IceCaps’ top two lines designated 1 and 1A.

Through the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs against the Albany Devils and into the opening two games against Norfolk back in St. John’s, Jaffray had been skating with John Albert and Andrew Gordon, while Kael Mouillierat patrolled the left wing with O’Dell and Klingberg.

However, entering Monday’s game, Klingberg was still looking for his first playoff point, O’Dell had only two goals and Mouillierat had only a goal and an assist.

That all changed as O’Dell netted a pair of goals, Klingberg registered a goal and an assist and Jaffray, the captain and team leader, collected a goal and assisted on two others.

“I don’t think it’s one thing specific thing that we were or were not doing,” Jaffray said. “When you consider Eric O’Dell’s skill set — the guy has played in the National Hockey League for a pretty good time this season (three goals and four assists in 30 games)  — and the fact Carl Klingberg opens up a lot of space on the right side with his speed, it’s been a pretty good combination between the three of us.”

Hockey players will often talk about chemistry between the centre, left-winger and right-winger. That may be the case with long-time skaters of the same string, like the old Production Line back in the 1950s in Detroit with Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay.

But you don’t see those anymore, especially in the minors. So when a trio comes together and the results are immediate, it might be a fluke.

Or is it?

“That’s a good question, honestly,” Klingberg said. “I don’t know, but we were good. That’s all I know.

“If we can carry the puck in, that’s perfect. If not, we dump it in. We’re trying to be hard on the forecheck and I think we all understood that.”

No doubt, Jaffray would be an easy player to skate with. He can pass the puck, shoot the puck, he’s smart on the ice and he gets involved.

“I mean, he’s good at everything,” Klingberg said. “It’s unbelievable. He’s a natural leader, the engine of this team.”

Klingberg said the three spoke briefly as a unit before Monday’s game, but not in an official sit-down, in front of the chalkboard.

“We made certain we were all aware of what were trying to do, talk on the ice, hit me here or there with the puck … blah, blah, blah.

“Thing is, we know how to play, and it’s just a matter of finding each other out there.”

Now that it appears that unit is clicking, McCambridge has to hope the Albert unit gets untracked. Granted, Andrew Gordon has four goals and an assist, but Albert and Mouillierat have only one goal apiece through eight playoff games.

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, National Hockey League

Geographic location: Norfolk, Detroit

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