Blues – Ice Cats Fall in Second Round
The Hartford Wolfpack eliminated the Worcester Ice Cats over the weekend winning the final three games by a total of three goals. Despite a brilliant performance by Brent Johnson, the ‘Cats showed their inexperience and lack of fire power. A team can’t expect to win scoring only 3 goals in three games. Johnson, however, was the bright spot for the ‘Cats. Before the weekend he had a 2.44 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. He made several outstanding saves Sunday night that kept the ‘Cats in the game. Jame Pollock, who has been a pleasant surprise late in the season and in the playoffs, scored another goal in Saturday’s loss. That goal brought his playoff totals to 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 games. Pollock led all rookies in playoff scoring, in goals and in points. Ladislav Nagy, fresh off his playoff stint with the Blues, returned Saturday and contributed a goal as well. But the ‘Cats just ran out of gas, losing 2-0 in the series clincher. There was hope that Marty Reasoner would rejoin the team as well, however, he apparently suffered a separated shoulder and played the final three games of the San Jose series in pain.
The story for Worcester was similar to that of the Blues in their first round loss. The Ice Cats have talent, but are short on veteran leadership and playoff experience. Comparing Worcester and Hartford shows that the Wolfpack has 14 players with NHL experience to just 6 for the ‘Cats. Coach Gilbert had 5 rookies in the lineup compared to just 1 for Hartford. And the average age for the ‘Pack as a team is 26.8, the ‘Cats average age is 23.1 years old.
What has to be somewhat of a disappointment is the disappearance of Derek Bekar down the stretch. Bekar did not have a goal in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch in two games. Also a disappointment, but not a surprise, was the lack of production from Jim Campbell. He had been a consistent scorer for the Ice Cats during the regular season, but he scored just 1 goal in the playoffs. Overall the team competed well. They played with passion and grit, and if not for the wasted chances in game 4, this series would still be alive.
Joel Quenneville attended both games over the weekend, scouting out the Blues future. And even though he saw another series loss, something tells me that he likes what the future holds for the organization as a whole. Brent Johnson was outstanding all season, and showed he rises to the occasion in the playoffs. Daniel Corso was the most improved player on the team and should continue to make progress next year. Ladislav Nagy is a great player now, and the sky is the limit regarding his potential. Andrei Podkonicky also stepped up in the crunch as did Jame Thompson and Jame Pollock. So let’s all join in and recite a familiar chorus to all Blues fans…. There’s always next year.