WINNIPEG, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 28: Patrice Cormier #28 of the Winnipeg Jets battles with Brett Sutter #42 of the Carolina Hurricanes for the puck in preseason NHL action at the MTS Centre on September 28, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
The IceCaps welcomed Braden Holtby and the Hershey Bears to Mile One Centre on Friday night. It was the first matchup between the two teams, and one of the few times per season that fans get to see a goaltender who's recently played a number of games at the NHL level.
St. John's fans are ruthless against other teams' high profile talent - just ask Nazem Kadri. It was no surprise that Holtby would hear it from the home crowd.
Patrice Cormier helped the cause quite a bit by burying Holtby and netting himself a hat-trick in a 6-1 route of the Bears. IceCaps leading scorer Spencer Machacek also grabbed 2 points on the night.
Cormier has managed to ride percentages this season despite not being recognized as one of the IceCaps' top offensive producers. His ability to play a number of roles has him up and down the lineup, but this recent outburst now puts Cormier at 14 goals on the season on only 67 shots (20.8% shooting). In comparison, Carl Klingberg has potted 15 on 130 shots.
While Cormier's scoring rate is unsustainable with such a low total of shots, it's nice to see that he's been able to make the most of his opportunities on the offensive side of the puck. It's clear that he will need to put a lot more shots on net going forward, however, if he wants to net the point totals that will catch everyone's eye.
Cormier has consistently been viewed as a well-rounded forward. He's big and built to play a power-forward game. In games that I've watched him carefully, he has a noticeably good shot when able to unload it. He's aggressive enough to force his way to the net and generate offense, so even though his NHL upside is viewed as that of checking line center, I think he still has room to grow his offensive game. It starts with shooting the puck more often.
For a guy who will hit, fight, and literally go to all areas of the ice, adding a decent goal-scoring touch to his arsenal could help Cormier progress his career sooner than later.