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IceCaps at melting point

Jets' struggling AHL team has almost as many injuries as points

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There are no shoulders to cry on and no quick-fix answers.

The St. John's IceCaps are so banged up their team picture -- as the old saying goes -- is an X-ray. They are struggling to score goals and desperate for their best players, when they are healthy, to step up and be their best players.

And so as the losses mount -- the IceCaps dropped their fifth straight in a 4-0 home loss to Hershey on Wednesday -- head coach Keith McCambridge doesn't have any magic wand to wave or potion for his troops to swallow.

The sympathy cards from across the American Hockey League aren't exactly rolling in, either.

"I hate to use injuries as an excuse because you've got to find ways to win games regardless of who's not in and who's in," said McCambridge this week in a telephone interview. "And when you look at wins or losses, there's no asterisk beside it telling how many guys are injured.

"But, our number is concerning when you hit double digits. It's a matter of making sure we don't lose traction in the standings here and we're trying to get every point we can. We know eventually we're going to be healthy and eventually we'll have an opportunity as a coaching staff to see this roster on the ice as a group."

Still, that could be awhile. The IceCaps injured list reached 10 earlier this week when Shawn Weller broke his hand in the first period after being called up from the Colorado Eagles and the club has since summoned Cody Sol, Ray Kaunisto and Ryan Schnell from the ECHL.

Getting healthy is one thing, but McCambridge also believes this: An end to the lockout would actually help the IceCaps. They may lose bodies to the parent Winnipeg Jets, but some of their AHL counterparts are stacked with young talent who would normally be in the NHL if big league was playing.

"I look at ourselves with some of the guys we're missing... we're an American Hockey League team," McCambridge said. "Other teams are benefitting from the lockout, like Springfield and Hershey.

"It is one thing to look at your team on paper and think about how it should be. I do look forward to when everybody's healthy and we have what we thought we would have when the season started. I would like to work with that group and compare it with the rest of the league."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait


The record: 11-14-0-1; last in Atlantic Division; 12th in Eastern Conference.

Streak: 5L; Last 10: 3-6-0-1



IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge provides a brief status report on some of the young players on the Jets' radar:


Alex Burmistrov: "You can see his skill set and his work ethic, his compete and willingness to battle is there. I like the way he played for us. He's a real good kid and he brings a lot of energy on and off the ice. He's a reliable player who makes good puck decisions and is good in his own zone. Sometimes you forget how young he is.

"He'd like his numbers to be better, but that's an overall thing with us as a group: we've had problems scoring goals."

Burmistrov's stat line: GP: 22 G: 2 A: 9 Pts: 11 minus-2

Ivan Telegin: "NHL speed, NHL shot. The structure in his game, we had to get that to where it needs to be to play for Claude (Noel). There were some areas in his defensive zone we had to address, but I like where his game is at right now. It's really tough for defencemen to contain him. Good kid, works hard, good size. He's making strides... he'll have seven really strong games and then a stretch where he takes some steps back. But he's a real bright prospect for the Jets."

Telegin's stat line: GP: 25 G: 2 A: 5 Pts: 7 plus-2

Spencer Machacek: "He got away from his game, his strength being as a guy who has to move his feet, has to be on the forecheck and take pucks to those hard areas. He was standing still a lot of times and not doing what had given him success in the past and what had worked in Winnipeg. It's going to the corners and being hard on pucks. He's got that back in his game. The effort is always there. He's a cerebral guy who is always thinking the game, but it's just a matter of realizing what his strengths are."

Machacek's stat line: GP: GP: 26 G: 4 A: 8 Pts: 12 minus-14

Ben Maxwell: "He's always been quick to loose pucks but right now Maxie is having some issues with being able to finish. He's generating a lot of chances, it's just right now he can't finish. He's hitting crossbars and posts. He's a top-end guy and I believe it's a matter of time before they start going in the back of the net. He's frustrated, but working hard."

Maxwell's stat line: GP: 26 G: 1 A: 7 Pts: 8 minus-12

Carl Klingberg: "He's finding the back of the net more, but Carl has to make sure that if he's going to play a third-fourth line role in the National League he's going to have to be harder on pucks. When he goes into the corner to win those puck battles he's got to come out with the puck. I like his drive this year. He struggled in the back half of last year, but I like what he's brought to the ice."

Klingberg's stat line: GP: 22 G: 5 A: 2 Pts: 7 minus-1


Zach Redmond: "He's been one of our best players, if not our best, in a good percentage of our games. He has taken leaps and bounds development-wise in everything. He's got a solid two-way game and has really jumped out as a top-end defenceman in the American league. He's knocking on the door for the NHL. I've got nothing but great things to say about Zach."

Redmond's stat line: GP: 26 G: 7 A: 6 Pts: 13 minus-3

Paul Postma: "He had injuries and has come back. His last five games have been better, back to where we saw him at the end of last season in the playoffs and regular season. He's got to make sure his play in the neutral zone is strong and down low in his own zone and net front, which is always going to be the question with Paul. He's showing some good signs in finding his game as of late."

Postma's stat line: GP: 17 G: 4 A: 7 Pts: 11 minus-1

Julian Melchiori: "As a first-year pro, the nerves set in at the beginning of the year. He was forcing pucks up the boards when he had other options. You could see he needed to get his feet adjusted to the speed of the pro level. But he's really started to develop. Big guy, skates well and is using his speed well to move pucks. For a large defenceman, I like his speed. He's quick and has some real positive upside."

Melchiori's stat line: GP: 15 G: 0 A: 1 Pts: 1 minus-1

Will O'Neill: "Good puck-moving defenceman, skates well. He's also developing really strongly here. He's got good offensive instincts and I like where his game is at."

O'Neill's stat line: GP: 18 G: 0 A: 6 Pts: 6 minus-6

Ben Chiarot: "He came in last year and realized he had to earn his ice time with this organization. Ben has been good for us this year. A big, strong physical defenceman. It's just realizing that's his niche in this organization, being a big, physical player."

Chiarot's stat line: GP: 21 G: 0 A: 0 Pts: 0 minus-7


Eddie Pasquale: "He's been really good. He had a stint there earlier where every couple of games he'd give up a goal he didn't feel good about. But he's been strong in net for us."

Pasquale's stat line: GP: 15 W-L-T: 6-8-1 GAA: 2.45 Save pct: .924

Mark Dekanich: "You can see the experience he has. You can see why he was brought in here to give balance and to push Eddie. Our goaltending has been really good for us."

Dekanich's stat line: GP 12 W-L-T: 5-6-0 GAA: 2.98 Save pct: .894



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 0

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