Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hopefuls hanging in there

O'Dell, Cormier giving brass lots to think about

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Minnesota Wild's Marco Scandella, left, and Winnigeg Jets' Jerome Samson, right, go after the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

TOM OLMSCHEID / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Minnesota Wild's Marco Scandella, left, and Winnigeg Jets' Jerome Samson, right, go after the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

ST. PAUL, MINN. -- It might not be enough, but it sure as bleep can't hurt.

Winnipeg Jets' brass might already have the airplane tickets to St. John's for Eric O'Dell and Patrice Cormier, but the two forwards did everything possible to make management's decisions a little more difficult in Saturday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild.

'I'm feeling more comfortable with the guys and my line is catching some chemistry' --Jets' Eric O'Dell

O'Dell scored once and added an assist, while Cormier -- playing left wing on a line with Jim Slater and Anthony Peluso -- also beat Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom while playing a versatile and gritty game.

And with the jobs scarce and roster openings few, that's about all a prospect can do with the start of the NHL regular season fast approaching.

"I thought I had a pretty good game," said O'Dell, who centred Carl Klingberg and Jerome Samson and also saw some power-play time. "Just game by game I keep feeling better and better. I'm feeling more comfortable with the guys and my line is catching some chemistry.

"All I can do is go hard game by game, practice by practice, and try to make the team. That's my goal. I'm going to look forward. If they send me down, I can't control that. All I can control is what I do, and if I play well it will be tougher for them."

O'Dell may still be seen as a rising star by the Jets -- he was the IceCaps MVP after leading them in scoring last season -- but Cormier is pushing to keep his name in that same discussion. Now 23, the former New Jersey Devils' second-round draft pick -- who was acquired by the organization in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade in 2010 -- has battled injuries over the last couple of seasons. He played in just 35 games in St. John's last year (seven goals, four assists) and had zero points in 10 games with the Jets.

But he was superb against the Wild, playing a physical game while showcasing his ability to play the wing and centre.

"My main goal coming into camp was getting better every day. Not having a good game... I can't afford that," said Cormier. "That's not an option for me. All I can do is work hard and control what I can and be a good teammate, help the guys and do what I'm asked.

"It was good to chip in... the guys, Peluso and Slater, were having some fun with it. It would have been nice to win because everybody would have been more cheerful. But we showed a lot as a team, a lot of good things... and that's positive."

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2013 B2

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Updated on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM CDT: Fixes pull quote, replaces pictures.

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