Former Maple Leaf returns as Sound Tiger
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland - Nothing against Louisiana, where he played
most of this year, but the weather here in Newfoundland is a little
more familiar to Konstantin Kalmikov.
"It was my first time not seeing snow anywhere, the 23-year-old
Ukrainian forward said. "I played in cold weather all the time. After
St. John's for three years, (Louisiana) was a different climate.
The former Maple Leaf prospect spent the year with the IceGators of
the ECHL, but after their season ended, he joined the Bridgeport
Sound Tigers last week.
He made his Sound Tiger debut Saturday in Game 2 and returned to the
Rock for Monday's Game 3 for the first time since last year as the
Sound Tigers grabbed a 3-0 series lead.
He returned, in fact, as a top-two-line player. Kalmikov joined Juraj
Kolnik and Jason Krog on the top line late in the first period of
Game 2 and played well; he played with Dave Roche and Jason Podollan
Monday night in Game 3, a double-overtime win on Kolnik's goal. "I
thought I'd kind of play a few shifts a period, Kalmikov said. "I was
surprised, pretty excited. ... I had some pretty good opportunities.
(Krog and Kolnik) are skilled. They're good with the puck, and they
Kalmikov and Bridgeport can complete a series sweep tonight with a
win at Mile One Stadium. Game 5, if necessary, would be Friday.
To hear Bridgeport coach Steve Stirling talk about Kalmikov, whom the
coach saw a lot of when Stirling was an assistant with Lowell, the
forward's situation sounds a lot like Matt Higgins' in the Montreal
organization, a player put in a role that didn't match his skills.
"I think he's a skill guy that might not have been put in a skill
situation on the Rock, Stirling said. "We said, 'Hey, there's some
skill there, some poise, some smarts.'
Kalmikov, in 177 AHL games with the Maple Leafs, had 18 goals and 34
assists. This year with the IceGators, who finished first overall in
the regular season, he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 67 games. He
also played two games each with Hershey and Houston of the AHL.
After Louisiana's season ended April 10, Kalmikov sat awhile before
Bridgeport called. He went into the lineup after Higgins suffered
what the team announced as a strained neck in Game 1 on Friday.
"I didn't play for a while, a couple of weeks," Kalmikov said. "I was
just getting my legs a bit. I tried not to do too much out there ...
just drive to the net.