IceCaps aim to bring road success home

Brendan McCarthy
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St. John’s returns to Mile One in search of franchise-record seventh straight win, host P-Bruins Tuesday

That gentleman, is what Keith McCambridge was saying.    
You may have seen the latest Netflix commercial, where a hockey coach gives his sullen team a dressing-room pep talk ... sort of.

IceCaps logo

Instead of delivering a speech, this coach instead refers to one from a hockey movie, asking his players if they recall what was said by the coach in that film. When they indicate yes, he finishes up with the line “Well that gentleman, is what I’m saying!,” the cue for a suddenly fired-up team to head back on to the ice.

McCambridge’s St. John’s IceCaps certainly weren’t sullen Saturday as they prepared to take on the Manchester Monarchs in southern New Hampshire. After all, the IceCaps had won five straight, including the first four games of a New England road swing they were concluding that night.

Still, the St. John’s coach was a tad concerned, noting “the percentages show that in the last game of a road trip, there is often a bit of letdown,” and he felt compelled to point out the need to guard against that.

As it turned out, there was no such letdown as St. John’s went on to a 3-1 win over the Monarchs, the overall leader of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.

“I like the work ethic of this team, I like the way the way they play for each other and I think you saw that (Saturday) night,” said McCambridge.

“The players realized the importance of the game and they wanted to continue the push that’s (led to the winning streak).

“I didn’t need to say much, just a reminder.”

The words of that reminder — like those of the referred-to speech in the commercial — are unreleased and unrecorded — “I’m not going to give out what I said, line for line,” chuckled McCambridge (who has seen the Netflix ad).

But he may have to use the speech, or a version of it, Tuesday night, when St. John’s begins a four-game stretch at Mile One Centre as it takes on the visiting Providence Bruins. That’s because McCambridge agrees the first home game after a road trip can be just as problematic.

“It’s the same as the last game of a road trip. For a lot of reasons, it’s always seems to be a test,” he said.

In fact, this whole homestand may be a test. Including its two weekend road games (the IceCaps beat the Portland Pirates 7-4 on Friday), the Tuesday and Wednesday matchups against the P-Bruins, and two more Saturday and Sunday at Mile One against the Worcester Sharks, St. John’s will have played six games in nine days, with travel.

Still, there is no arguing that this is a team on a roll, and a timely one at that.

The six-game win streak — which ties an IceCaps’ team record — comes as many of the other clubs fighting for playoff position in the Eastern Conference are also finding success.

In fact, entering today, only five points separate the teams sitting in positions 4 to 8 in the conference standings. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Norfolk Admirals have 56 points, one more than St. John’s and the Albany Devils, who are in turn one point in front of the Hershey Bears, who currently hold the last playoff position. The Penguins and Admirals have played one more game than the other three teams.

 

Notes: Defenceman Paul Postma, who was the game’s first star Saturday night after assisting on all three IceCaps’ goals, travelled with the team to St. John’s Sunday. Postma is on a conditioning assignment from the parent Winnipeg Jets that could last two weeks or less. “He’ll play the two games (against Providence) and we’ll see from there,” answered McCambridge when asked the plan for Postma, who is working his way back into game shape after being sidelined for three months by blood clots in his leg ... St. John’s last loss was Jan. 18, when it was shut out 6-0 by the Monarchs at Mile One. Since then, the IceCaps have outscored the opposition 26-12, with goaltender Michael Hutchinson getting the start in every game. What’s more, two of their wins in the six-game winning streak have come against Manchester, improving St. John’s record to 6-3 against the Monarchs so far this season. Six of Manchester’s 13 losses this season have been to St. John’s ... The IceCaps scored at least one power-play goal in each of its five wins on the road swing, and went 10-for-28 overall. They allowed just three power-play goals in 22 opposition opportunities during the trip ...

 

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @telybrendan

Organizations: IceCaps, Monarchs, American Hockey League Netflix Hershey Bears Penguins Winnipeg Jets

Geographic location: New Hampshire, New England, Manchester Wilkes-Barre

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