Winners of four straight, St. John’s visits the Portland Pirates tonight
It’s a 30-team American Hockey League, so if everything was equal, then each club would have two players in the league’s list of top 60 scorers.
Well as of Thursday, as they prepared for tonight’s game against the Portland Pirates in Lewiston, Me. (8:30 p.m. Newfoundland time) the IceCaps had five players in the top 50 — Kael Mouillierat (12-23-35), Brenden Kichton (8-27-35), Andrew Gordon (15-15-30), Jason Jaffray (12-18-30) and Eric O’Dell (12-17-29).
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What’s notable is that outside of O’Dell, who’s been with the parent Winnipeg Jets since last month, none of the players is a centre, although 21 of the league’s top 50 point-getters play that position.
In fact, the IceCaps’ recent success — they’ve won four straight and six of their last seven games — has come with a centre-ice quartet of John Albert (17 points in 37 games), Adam Lowry (15 points in 35 games), Kyle McKinnon (14 points in 39 games) and Patrice Cormier (13 points in 39 games). That doesn’t get any of those four in the the AHL’s top 200 scorers.
When asked how those centres were contributing to his team’s offensive output without putting up a whole lot of points, St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge suggested it starts in the defensive end of the ice.
“I’d have to say a lot of it comes from a commitment as a group of five (players) to come back in our to our zone and defend, and then quickly get puck possession,” said McCambridge. “That leads to good breakouts and gets us back on the attack, on offence, quickly.”
NOTES: A couple of notes on Eric O’Dell: He could be assigned to St. John’s during the NHL’s Olympic break and he’s a new father. The 23-year-old missed Jets’ practice Thursday in Winnipeg to return to his hometown of Ottawa after the birth of his first child, a girl … Defenceman Paul Postma, sent to St. John’s on a conditioning assignment by Winnipeg this week, practised with the IceCaps Thursday and will play tonight’s game. Postma has appeared in eight games for the Jets this season, but hasn’t played since late October, when he was sidelined by blood clots in his calf … Also set to return to action for St. John’s tonight is rearguard Julian Melchiori, who has been out with an injury since Jan. 7 … The Pirates (16-16-9), the farm team of the Phoenix Coyotes, are 2-4-4 in their last 10 games, but have picked up points in the last four (1-0-2) … Veteran forward Andy Miele (18-21-39) is the Pirates’ leading scorer, averaging exactly a point a game … Goulds native and Portland rookie defenceman James Melindy has a a goal in 14 games … A reminder that tonight’s game is being played at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée 3,677 capacity) in Lewiston, 40 miles from Portland, because of the Pirates’ ongoing dispute over the terms of their lease with the Cumberland County Civic Centre … The CJYQ (This is Newfoundland Labrador) transmitter was destroyed by fire earlier this week and while efforts are underway to put the radio station back on the air, it’s not known exactly when that will happen. But even if tonight’s game won’t be available on radio at 930AM, Brian Rogers’ broadcasts will be accessible through the station’s online site (thisisnewfoundlanlabrador.ca) and the IceCaps’ website (stjohnsicecaps.com) or those of the various Steele Communications stations … The IceCaps wind up a five-game road trip with a game Saturday (8:30 p.m.) against the Manchester Monarchs ...