Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

IceCaps being patient with potential-packed Lowry

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Keith McCambridge is a man who knows all about urgency.

Pro hockey has been his life for quite some time and now, as a coach in an organization desperate to improve its depth and develop its own players, the needs of the Winnipeg Jets are never far from his view.

But McCambridge was preaching more patience this week, asked about Adam Lowry, one of the top prospects of the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.

"You look at him and realize there's a lot of excitement about him, but you realize it's not going to happen overnight," McCambridge said in the middle of a lengthy IceCaps road trip that continues tonight in Hershey, Penn.

"It's something that's a process. Regardless of being big and (having) all the tools, sometimes you've had to take a step back and see he's still a young kid here. But he's got some good characteristics to his game."

Lowry, the Jets' third-round pick of 2011, was last season's WHL player of the year with Swift Current. Now 20, his rookie pro season with the IceCaps has been hampered by injury.

The 6-5 centre is back on the ice now and through 12 games, he's got one goal and three points.

"He was about two-and-a-half weeks behind and you could see it in his game," the coach said. "But the last three games, especially the last two, he's been good, more involved and been moving his feet and skating.

"And moving pucks quicker in traffic. Coming from junior, regardless if it's the AHL or NHL, it's still happening quickly, so to be able to read where the pressure's coming from, where the pucks needs to move... that's getting better.

"He's making the right steps."

Asked what kind of coaching priorities are there for Lowry, McCambridge had a list.

"No. 1 thing for me is realizing what it takes to be a good professional hockey player," he said. "For me that's when practice starts, making sure he's ready to go. That's different, those guys coming from junior where it might not be that way.

"Another part with regard to his play is making sure he's moving his feet. He's a big man and he's got to be strong on pucks, got to want pucks. He's got to go in there and be a guy who will play big."

In the middle of their trip, 2-1 through the first three games and above the AHL's Eastern Conference playoff line at 9-8-3, McCambridge and his team were in attendance at Monday's Jets-Devils game in Newark.

There, the coach said the team's development is on a better path than last year's out-of-the-playoffs result.

"They like each other," the coach said. "They enjoy being around each other. They're working fiends.

"The culture is better. It is more guys who are the right type of players, draft picks that have come in (with) the right mindset. (We have) the right type of leaders, like Jason Jaffray, Andrew Gordon, Jerome Samson."

Another the coach singled out to this point included centre Eric O'Dell, who has 20 points in 19 games.

He also mentioned rookie prospects J.C. Lipon -- who will serve Game No. 2 of a two-game suspension tonight -- and Brendan Kichton as making impressions so far.

Both were draft picks last June.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2013 C3

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