St. John’s IceCaps assistant captain Bud Holloway leads the team with eight goals and 20 assists, and is tied for fifth overall in league scoring. Aside from his play on the ice, the Saskatchewan product has embraced the role of leader on the bench and in the locker room for the young IceCaps.
©Colin Peddle/St. John’s IceCaps
The St. John’s IceCaps have had their share of roster movements through the pre-holidays portion of their American Hockey League schedule, yet the team remains right in the thick of things in a fairly competitive North Division.
Consider this: entering last night’s game against the Rochester Americans at the First Niagara Centre in Buffalo, N.Y., the IceCaps have dressed 32 different skaters this season, including Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn, who were both sent to the AHL by the Montreal Canadiens on brief conditioning assignments.
Further, eight different IceCaps have been recalled to Montreal, and three others — Jacob de la Rose and rookies Mark MacMillan and Markus Eisenschmid — have each missed a dozen or more games to injury.
Yet the IceCaps were tied with the Albany Devils for second place in the North as of Wednesday, with a 15-8-5-2 record. The 24-7-2-0 Toronto Marlies lead the division, and the entire league, although that team has had its troubles with St. John’s.
In six head-to-head meetings so far this season, the IceCaps have won four games against the Marlies.
“This is a good squad, a good, young team,” said winger Bud Holloway, who leads the IceCaps with eight goals and 20 assists, and is tied for fifth overall in league scoring. “Everyone in that (locker) room competes every night. We’re playing with guys up (in Montreal), and guys who are hurt, but we’re right there in every game which shows you what kind of character we have .
“I’m actually pretty proud of the way we’ve responded.”
With the exception of a four-game mini slump earlier this month, Holloway — along with team captain Gabriel Dumont — has been the IceCaps’ most consistent performer this season. On-ice production aside, his presence in the IceCaps’ locker room has been a plus for a team that’s one of the youngest in the league.
“During my exit meeting (from the Canadiens’ training camp), (Montreal general manager) Marc Bergevin told me I was going to have to be a leader in St. John’s,” he said. “And that’s not really a task that comes hard for me. It’s pretty simple, actually. You do what you want others to do.”
“He’s a guy who bring calmness to the team, some poise,” IceCaps coach Sylvain Lefebvre said of his 27-year-old assistant captain, from tiny Wapella, Sask. “When he speaks on the bench, it’s never in a loud, angry tone. He brings stability. He’s a glue guy. Guys are hanging around him, because they like talking to him. When he’s sitting on the couch in the players’ lounge, guys are around him.
“He doesn’t lead with a lot of noise. He’s a quiet guy, but people listen.”
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2006, Holloway enjoyed two full productive seasons with Manchester of the AHL, but never did get a callup from L.A. A restricted free agent in 2011, he opted to head overseas where he spent three years in Sweden and one, last season, in Bern, Switzerland.
Considered a free agent by the NHL last summer, Holloway elected to give it another go in North American and signed with the Canadiens in July. A couple of teams expressed interest, but Holloway figured Montreal was his best bet.
It paid off last month when the Canadiens called up Holloway. He appeared in first NHL game on Nov. 27, against the Devils in Newark, N.J.
“The emotion and the joy and the excitement to be there was something I’d never really experienced before,” he said.
“I don’t have a wife and kids yet,” he added with a smile, “but career-wise, it was unbelieveable.”
The stint in Montreal lasted only one game, and just short of a week before he was reassigned to St. John’s.
But now that he’s had a taste of the National Hockey League, he wants the full meal deal.
“You get a shot, and you think, ‘Okay, this is what it’s about.’ And then you come back down and you’re thinking, ‘I want to get back up there. I want to be playing in the best league.’
“At the same time, when you’re back here and around the guys, you feel at home again.”
Home is where the heart is, and Holloway likes the IceCaps’ chances heading into the second half of the season and hopefully a lengthy playoff run.
In the meantime, another crack at the NHL with the Canadiens would be welcomed, too.