Getting quick look at Capitals Konowalchuk up, down as Jack

January 29, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Skipjacks' Steve Konowalchuk is itchy. Life as one of the Washington Capitals' brightest prospects is not always as glorious as it may seem.

Konowalchuk is itchy because the Skipjacks' game against the Hershey Bears tonight at the Baltimore Arena will be only his second in 12 days. And that is due in part to the fact he is held in such high esteem by the organization.

If that seems contradictory, consider Konowalchuk's recent odyssey.

Since the Skipjacks' game against the St. John's Maple Leafs on Jan. 17, he has played only once -- seven days ago against the Binghamton Rangers. The following afternoon, after the Skipjacks warmed up before another game against Binghamton, Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz pulled him aside.

"You're playing for the Caps tonight because Michal Pivonka is out sick," Trotz said.

Since he wouldn't be playing for the Skipjacks, Konowalchuk showered and dressed and headed for the Capital Centre, where the Capitals were to meet the Ottawa Senators.

Never mind, he was told after he arrived, Pivonka is well enough to play. Konowalchuk sat in the stands and watched.

Meanwhile, the Skipjacks, after losing to Binghamton without Konowalchuk, headed to Providence on Saturday night by bus for a game against the Bruins Sunday night. Konowalchuk flew )) up Sunday morning to join them.

Because two monster truck pulls were held at the Providence Civic Center the previous two nights, the ice surface was full of mud and holes. Game postponed.

Konowalchuk, by now frustrated, returned to Baltimore on the team bus.

"I was disappointed I didn't get to play against Ottawa," Konowalchuk said. "And I was disappointed we didn't play Sunday. I've had one game in 11 days. That's almost two weeks of practices for one game."

Konowalchuk, who turned 20 in November, is the second-youngest Skipjack to Jeff Nelson, who was 20 last month.

"I was happy with my time there and the Caps said they were, too," said Konowalchuk, a 6-foot, 180-pound native of Salt Lake City.

"We feel really good about Steve," said Caps coach Terry Murray. "He'sdone a very good job in Baltimore, and when he was up with us we were very pleased. He showed he was able to make both the mental and physical adjustments very well coming right out of the junior ranks. We look for him to have a long-term and very good career here."

Konowalchuk's need to build up his strength, Trotz says, is the only thing holding him back. Instead of working with weights only a few days a week, he does it daily, concentrating on repetitions with relatively light weights.

"He's still a young guy, so maturing physically will take care of part of the increase in strength," Trotz said. "Otherwise, all he needs is to learn a few tricks, like using body position on faceoffs, and patience. Like, instead of always going after the puck when we're in the defensive end, he sometimes has to hold his support position.

"He has an extremely bright future," Trotz said.

Skipjacks tonight

,

Opponent: Hershey Bears

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7:35

Tickets: Many available

Outlook: The Skipjacks, 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, are in fourth place in the AHL's Southern Division, a notch ahead of Hershey. The Bears, who have won only two of their last 10, trail in their season rivalry with Baltimore, 3-6-0. This is the Skipjacks' first game since last Saturday, when they absorbed their second straight loss to the Binghamton Rangers. Hershey, coming off Wednesday's loss at home to Utica, is 4-18-3 on the road. The Skipjacks are 11-10-4 at home. The Bears' Tim Tookey is No. 4 in the AHL points race with 66; the Skipjacks' Mike Boback is No. 1 among rookies and No. 16 overall with 54.

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