The IceHogs have high hopes for a playoff run in the second half of their season which begins Friday night. One of the biggest keys could be the return of goaltender J.F. Berube.
We haven’t seen Berube in action since December 9th when he injured an ankle. He finally began practicing again a week and a half ago.
“I’m starting to feel well,” says Berube. “It’s getting better. It’s been a long time since I’ve been off. It just feels good to be out there and be able to take some drills.
Berube can’t say for certain when he’ll be ready to play in a game, but that time is coming. When he went down with his injury he was only days removed from his first NHL call-up with the Blackhawks. He appeared in one game with them.
With the IceHogs he was their top goaltender at the time. Even now his 2.43 goals against average and his .918 save percentage is still the best on the team. Better than Jeff Glass’s stats when he was still in Rockford and better than Collin Delia’s.
Had Berube not gotten injured he might have been spending the past several weeks playing for the Blackhawks in Corey Crawford’s place. Instead Glass has gotten that opportunity.
“Those things are out of my control and right now I can just focus on getting better and helping the team here in Rockford,” says Berube. “At the same time I’m really happy for Jeff. He’s getting his chance and he’s doing really well.”
Meanwhile Collin Delia has been red-hot of late for the IceHogs in goal. He’s unbeaten in his last six starts. Because of that there’s no need to rush Berube back. Berube says the hardest part of coming back after a long layoff is getting his timing back.
“For sure the timing. I’ve been out for almost two months so just getting my timing back. Getting to my spots quick. Making sure I’m square to the puck and reading shots well.”
Berube expects to be a key contributor this second half and he expects the IceHogs to make the playoffs.
“Right now we’re in good position and we have a really good team, so I think it’s going to be really exciting, and I’m really looking forward to be back out there and help them get some wins.”