IceCaps split weekend games with Pirates, welcome back captain Jaffray
The St. John's IceCaps (3-3-0) finished their first two-game series against the Portland Pirates Wednesday with an unconvincing display, losing 4-0 to a much more in-sync team, and splitting the series 1-1.
Despite playing better defensively than they had on Tuesday night (allowing seven goals), the IceCaps still looked vulnerable defensively. And, even with Eddie Pasquale taking over starting duties in net, as well as captain Jason Jaffray returning from a long-term injury (having been sidelined for much of last season), the IceCaps couldn't muster much offense.
“It's never fun to be shut out 4-0, especially by a guy who let in eight goals the night before,” Jaffray said. “Give them credit, they came back with a much better defensive effort tonight.”
The captain said, of his return: “It felt great. It wasn't really the result I wanted out there but personally I felt alright. The first period was a bit shaky for me, trying to get up to speed, but the second and third were a lot better and I stopped thinking about it so much.”
The IceCaps will hope the return of Jaffray will spark the team more convincingly than it had Wednesday night.
As to be expected, IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge was disappointed with his team's effort.
“We're moving pucks up the ice too slowly, we're not trying to find the quick, short pass,” he said. “And, we're turning pucks over.”
McCambridge compared the game to Tuesday's game versus Portland, adding, “If we're comparing last night's defensive breakdowns to tonight's, I thought our structure, our D-zone coverage was better. What we look like right now is a team that's searching to see what our identity is.”
The identity of the IceCaps, as the coach mentioned, is still a work in progress.
McCambridge mentioned the importance of the addition of talent like Alex Burmistrov (of the Winnipeg Jets, because of the NHL lockout) and a potential high-scoring player like Ivan Telegin, who is moving on from the Ontario Hockey League.
Last year, the IceCaps scored by committee, with Spencer Machacek tallying a team-leading 50 points, and 11 players adding double-digits for goals. If the first six games are any indication (13 IceCaps have scored a goal), St.John's could reasonably be counting on more of the same.
Although Wednesday night ended in defeat, Tuesday was a different story, as the IceCaps got the best of the offensive fireworks show, an 8-7 win over the Pirates, on a night of sloppy team-defending.
Alex Burmistrov scored his first for the IceCaps in overtime to sink the Pirates.
“It's always nice when you score your first one,” Burmistrov said. “It's a good thing to score in overtime for my first.”
The IceCaps will be counting on more offensive production from the Winnipeg Jet, and rightfully so. Realistically, Burmistrov has looked like the most talented player on the team, and on the ice for both teams, on most nights. Though he failed to notch any points Wednesday, it surely won't be long until he finds the net again.
The IceCaps split this two-gamer with Portland, but will be looking to get the better of them when they head to visit the Pirates on Nov. 2.
St. John's hosts the Norfolk Admirals Oct. 27 and 28, and will potentially have Carl Klingberg (15 g, 37pts last season) back in the line-up, according to McCambridge, which would be a most welcome addition.