CEDAR PARK, Texas — The St. John’s IceCaps were ready for Game 1 of the Calder Cup final against the Texas Stars but went a little too much with brawn and not quite enough with brains.
The Winnipeg Jets’ top farm team played the body from start to finish — 2013 third-round draft pick Adam Lowry dropped the gloves with Stars’ forward and Winnipeg native Scott Glennie just as the final buzzer was sounding in the Stars’ 6-3 victory Sunday night.
"We’ve got to keep it physical, got to keep on them," said IceCaps centre Eric O’Dell this morning as the team readied for tonight’s Game 2 at Cedar Park Center. "We’ve just got to keep a high guy and our third guy’s got to stay more disciplined in their offensive zone. We’ve got to stay on the body and wear them down.
"Game 1 was tough. We know they’re a great team and I think we gave up too many odd-man rushes. We know how offensively skilled they are and they capitalized on their chances."
IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge said this morning that aggression has to have a better purpose for Game 2.
"I thought we were physical but at times we were more focused on playing the body than playing the puck," McCambridge said of Game 1. "There are times when you have to realize you’re going in for contact but the priority is to get the puck, not to put the player into the third row.
"We were a little bit too anxious in trying to just play the body and not come out with the puck. They key for us is to make sure that yes, we want to wear down the other team in a seven-game series here but we also have to realize that you’re going into the situation where you’ll have contact but you need to come out with the puck."
The IceCaps did outshoot the Stars 29-23 on the road, but know they’ll have to cut down Texas’s good looks at goalie Michael Hutchinson.
McCambridge said his team is well-versed in correcting mistakes and bouncing back.
"I look in the playoffs and we lost the first game to Norfolk and bounced back with a strong game. We lost the first game to Wilkes-Barre and bounced back. The difference is that we were at home but we feel we’re a real strong road team. All season long we’ve been able to push back with a strong bounce-back game. It’s how our schedule is built, with so many back-to-back games."
The Stars, who finished on top of the overall league standings during the regular season (106 points) scored six times on 23 shots on Sunday night and certainly noticed the IceCaps’ physical approach.
"During the game they kind of showed us what we thought they’d be but they played hard and created a lot," said Texas coach Willie Desjardins this morning. "We’ve got to find a way to get a little better.
"Game 1 is the easiest game to steal because nobody knows and you’re tight a little bit and you haven’t worked into the series. For us to get that game was big because it was a game we could have lost."