IceCaps Year in Review: Part 1 Posted by IceCaps on
By Chris Ballard
The 2013-14 American Hockey League season was a memorable one for the St. John’s IceCaps.
After recording a franchise-best 99 points in 76 regular season games, the IceCaps went on a roll in the postseason and made it all the way to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time ever.
A winning team needs a balance of offence, defence and goaltending to make it to the end and this year’s IceCaps forwards were able to score the goals needed to earn key victories. The IceCaps were the third-highest scoring team in the AHL with 258 goals scored, proof their forward group did its job well in 2013-14.
No single player did all the heavy lifting on offense for the IceCaps in 2013-14. While no forwards cracked the top-10 in AHL scoring this past season, they were able to make it to the Calder Cup Finals on the strength of a team effort.
Plain and simple, the IceCaps were a deep group up front. Four IceCaps skaters finished the regular season with 50 points or more, including Kael Mouillierat (60 GP, 20-33-53), Jerome Samson (68GP, 27-29-56) Andrew Gordon (76GP, 23-33-56) and Jason Jaffray (76GP, 18-41-59). Jaffray’s 59 points was good enough for a share of 16th place in the league scoring race.
The IceCaps’ got consistent goal scoring from all four lines and were fortunate to have five forwards notch 20 goals or more (John Albert (28), Samson (27), Gordon (23), Carl Klingberg (22) and Mouillierat (20). Captain Jaffray, rookie Adam Lowry and frequent callup Eric O’Dell were each within three goals of reaching the 20-goal mark.
Only the Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars’ roster boasted more 20-goal scorers.
Gotta start somewhere
While the bulk of the scoring was handled by the veterans, a pair of rookie forwards made their mark on the 2013-14 IceCaps season.
JC Lipon became one of the team’s go-to energy players and tallied a respectable 42 points in addition to his team-leading 136 penalty minutes.
Adam Lowry’s rookie season was slowed by injury but that didn’t stop him from assembling one of the best goal-scoring streaks in the American Hockey League in 2013-14. He scored a goal in five straight contests from January 31 to February 8, second only to Chuck Kobasew’s six-game streak for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Big year for many
Only one IceCaps forward cracked the 2013-14 AHL All Star roster but his role and impact couldn’t have been bigger. Jason Jaffray was named captain of the AHL squad as they broke new ground and invited the Swedish Hockey League’s Farjestad BK to Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
Jaffray stole the show on night one of the All Star festivities as he notched the winning goal in the skills competition to give the AHL the victory.
After scoring just 12 times in 88 regular season games over the last two seasons with the IceCaps, Cleveland, Ohio native John Albert exploded in his third year with the team and led all goal scorers, finding the net 28 times in 2013-14.
Strong play from the IceCaps forwards resulted in several players seeing time with the parent Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, including Eric O’Dell (30GP, 3-4-7), John Albert (9GP, 1-0-1), Patrice Cormier (9GP, 0-3-3) and Carl Klingberg (3GP, 1-0-1).
The IceCaps forward group will be missing some key players from the team’s Calder Cup run when the puck drops for the start of the 2014-15 season.
While leading scorer Jaffray will be returning to Mile One Centre, the IceCaps have already said goodbye to three of their top four scorers from 2013-14. IceCaps MVP and playoff stalwart Andrew Gordon (Philadelphia Flyers), Kael Mouillierat (New York Islanders) and Jerome Samson (Tampa Bay Lightning) have all signed two-way contracts with other teams.
Some of these absences can be filled from within. John Albert’s 28-goal outburst this past year certainly merits consideration as the team’s number one centre, aside left wing Jaffray.
All three outgoing forwards played on the wing, meaning the opportunity to step up will be there for returning wingers like Carl Klingberg and JC Lipon.
Top prospect Adam Lowry will continue to mature into his 6’5 frame as time progresses and seems like a perfect fit in the IceCaps top-six.
Other key returning members include the hard-working duo of Kyle MacKinnon and Blair Riley, as well as sophomore Austen Brassard. Rookies Ryan Olsen and Scott Kosmachuk are expected to begin the season in St. John’s and will look to establish regular roles on what is expected to be a younger group than last season.