Archive for November 15th, 2012

IceCaps off to slow start

- November 15th, 2012

It’s not the type of start the St. John’s IceCaps were envisioning for the 2012-13 season.

A 6-7 record would certainly fall under the banner of below expectations, especially after bringing back the core that made it to the Eastern Conference final last spring and added some key pieces to the puzzle as well.

There are plenty of reasons for the slow start, but a lack of consistent goal scoring has been a big one.

Through 13 games, the IceCaps are averaging just over two goals per game (27), which puts an enormous amount of pressure on their goaltenders to be almost perfect.

“We’ve had our ups-and-downs for sure, trying to figure out a bit of our identity and get our chemistry going,” said veteran defenceman Derek Meech. “We’re gtting chances and not converting. It’s just getting in those tough areas, being willing to drive to the net, getting more shots and working harder, in general…the goals aren’t just going to come. It’s tough to win in this league, especially this year. Every night is a battle. There’s some good talent in the league. You have to get in those areas and make it happen.”

The IceCaps have been blanked four times already, which is surprising, given the talent assembled.

However, it’s also a reflection on how good the goaltending has been around the AHL this season.

After enduring a cold stretch on an 11-day stretch that saw them spend a total of 18 hours on the bus, the IceCaps wrapped up their five-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Hershey Bears.

They return to Mile One Centre to open a six-game homestand on Friday against the Albany Devils.

When I spoke to IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge on Wednesday, he had rave reviews for centre Alex Burmistrov, who is tied for the team scoring lead with Meech.

Given what we saw during training camp in Newfoundland, we weren’t the least bit surprised. Burmistrov arrived with a positive attitude and is determined to use the lockout to get better and to repair his confidence, that was admittedly shaken after a strong start to last season with the Winnipeg Jets turned into disappointment.

Also asked McCambridge about rookie prospect Ivan Telegin, who has a goal and four points in 12 games:

“What I see is the raw talent of speed and his knack around the net,” said McCambridge. “What really jumps out is the size he has and the speed he possesses. His game right now is about making sure he’s playing the game the way it needs to be played at the pro level. That’s playing in straight lines, supporting pucks, using his speed to an advantage and sticking his nose into the battles for loose pucks. He’s a first-year guy who is realizing what it takes. A really good young kid with a lot of raw talent and he’s a kid that wants to learn.”

Injuries have been a factor for the IceCaps, who are currently without several key cogs, including centre Patrice Cormier, who is out for another month or so with a knee injury.

Veteran centre Aaron Gagnon has been dealing with a rib issue and has no points in seven games. For a guy on a one-way contract who was one of the top scorers on the team last season, Gagnon will be expected to pick things up once he’s back to full health.

Defenceman Paul Postma is back in action after missing time at the start of the season with a leg injury.

Postma has a goal and an assist in five games.

Forward Spencer Machacek, who impressed during a late-season recall with the Jets, has two goals and five points and will be looked upon to help chip in a bit more offensively moving forward.

When it comes to goaltending, prospect Eddie Pasquale and the more experienced Mark Dekanich have been splitting time and the two are expected to push one another for minutes as the season goes on.