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Keith McCambridge was just starting one of those notorious 'if this is Friday, this must be Providence' American Hockey League road trips in which one town quickly blurs into another.
But the affable St. John's IceCaps head coach seemingly never tires of talking about hockey, and in particular the players who are among the brightest and best prospects in the Winnipeg Jets' system.
The Free Press caught up with him Friday prior to a date with the Bruins in Rhode Island and picked his brain for some thoughts on the IceCaps in our second Jets Prospect Report of the 2013-14 season.
"We've got a young team here with some good veteran guys and we're keeping pace with our rivals," McCambridge beganw. "We've taken some good steps. There's lots to be played yet, but I like our attention to detail in our game and I like the fact our young guys, ever since Christmas, are starting to gain some traction and push our leadership guys we have."
Here are McCambridge's thoughts on some of the prospects on the Rock:
Brenden Kichton, defenceman
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 49; G: 9; A: 29; Pts: 38.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "I thought maybe his defensive game wouldn't be strong, but it's been good... A real cerebral guy who knows where he needs to be positionally... His skating has been better than I thought. He hasn't struggled with the speed of the AHL and that's why he was in the All-Star game... We always knew the offensive side was a good part of his resumé after the numbers he put up in Spokane (WHL). He's transitioned that seamlessly to us and is a key part of our power play... We're young at the back end, so he's able to get ice time and that's helped him."
J.C. Lipon, right-winger
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 46; G: 6; A: 20; Pts: 26.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "He's been a pleasant surprise... He plays on the edge with his physicality... Hard to play against, finishes checks... I like his quickness... Everything runs so fast in his mind, so he needs to slow things down a little bit and realize where he and his linemates are on the ice."
Adam Lowry, centre
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 41; G: 12; A: 8; Pts: 20.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "First half of the season he was learning the pro game and where his game needs to be... He's really coming into his own... He just recently scored in five consecutive games and has earned ice time based on how he performed... Plays both special teams... A big man who uses his size down low to protect pucks... You can see he's getting more confidence. I like where his development is."
Carl Klingberg, left-winger
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 42 G: 12 A: 8 Pts: 20.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "People forget he just turned 23 this year... Carl is the poster child for not being entitled to anything. He's worked on his consistency... He uses his speed to get on the forecheck and has a good skill set... Contact has to be a big part of his game and it comes for four or five games and then you won't see it... He's got some good tools."
Ben Chiarot, defenceman
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 33. G: 4. A: 9. Pts: 13.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "He has so many good tools... He's big, skates well, he's strong and he plays with intensity... Ben's gotten better. He's made strides in understanding he has to bring that all the time... He's a 227-pound man who skates well and leads our team in plus-minus."
Patrice Cormer, centre
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 43; G: 4; A: 12; Pts: 16.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "He's still a prospect... He's still talked about by Winnipeg and ourselves... He's been set back by injuries... He's had to work on his quickness and it's improved. His foot speed is at a better place... He can play on the wing and in the middle... He's a big man who is physical and has improved every single year we've had him here."
Julian Melchiori, defenceman
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 26: G: 0; A: 5; Pts: 5.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "There's been a lot of injuries for him this season... Every time he seems to be taking that second-year pro stride he's set back by injury... He's on a run here without injury and he's been good. He's been physical, he finishes checks... He's quick, he's got good speed... Working on his thought process: where he moves pucks... A good, young, energetic defenceman."
Eddie Pasquale, goalie
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 31; GAA: 2.43; Pct.: .920; Record: 17-13-1.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "This was a big year from Eddie Pasquale to see if he could make the transition and be a potential backup in Winnipeg. He knew that... With Eddie. it was the ability to put together solid back-to-back games and before this injury (season-ending). that was his downfall... He'd be lights-out one game and then two periods in the next where he was really good and then one soft one would get by him... The injury is unfortunate."
Michael Hutchinson, goalie
HIS NUMBERS: GP: 11; GAA: 2.31; Pct.: .924; Record: 7-3-0.
MCCAMBRIDGE SAYS: "I was surprised in the summer that we were able to get him under contract because he has AHL games under his belt and really good numbers... He played really well in the ECHL and then earned a spot in St. John's because he played well and Jussi Olkinuora needed to play more... Hutchinson has been outstanding for us... He makes it look controlled and saves easy... We're lucky to have him after losing Eddie."
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