Peake tries again to be good skate Caps rookie back on ice after layoff

September 21, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

It has been nearly seven months since Pat Peake last skated in a full hockey practice. So yesterday, after completing his first full practice of this preseason, the Washington Capitals' top rookie could take a little teasing.

"On the ice one day and already giving interviews," said a passing teammate.

"Ah, it's nothing," said another. "They're just trying to figure out who he is."

Pat Peake, sweat pouring from beneath his helmet, laughed.

"There were a whole lot of 'Who's the new guy?' out there," said Peake, who wore No. 14. "I had to introduce myself all over again."

For any hockey fan who doesn't know, Peake is the 20-year-old right wing who tore up the Ontario Hockey League as a member of the Detroit Junior Wings last season, with 58 goals and 78 assists in 46 games. He was named the OHL's Most Valuable Player and Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year.

And this season he had hoped to make the Capitals roster.

But last March he broke his left ankle and needed five months to recover. Then, in his first week back on the ice, he fractured the second toe on his left foot.

"It has been unbelieveably frustrating," Peake said. "I was expected to come in here and make the team, and I wind up missing the first 10 days of practice. I still think I can make it. . . .

"But [yesterday] it was just nice to be back on the ice, to get in the flow and skate. I'm sick to death of riding a stationary bike."

He rode it every day all summer, often with Capitals center Dale Hunter, who is serving a 21-game suspension for a late hit on the New York Islanders' Pierre Turgeon.

"It's a job just to try to keep up with Dale," Peake said. "He just kept telling me to think positive, and that's what I've been doing."

Just how he is going to fit into the Capitals' plans should become clearer this week. Capitals assistant coach John Perpich, who ran the on-ice practice yesterday, said the rookie "moved fairly well and had good wind." But Perpich added a key element to Peake's progress is whether he shows up today without swelling or increased foot pain.

"He has to get on the ice a couple days to feel comfortable," said Perpich. "We've got to get his conditioning level up. He's in good shape, but there is a difference between riding a bike and playing on the ice. You use different muscles."

Head coach Terry Murray said Peake's immediate post-preseason future may be with the American Hockey League affiliate Portland Pirates, but added it is still possible for Peake to make the Capitals.

"To be out seven months and to miss our first 10 days of camp, it's a long time," Murray said. "But he's a skill player with special talents. He should recapture his timing very quickly. It's up to him to show us where he's at. He has to do something spectacular to show us he can do it."

Murray said that if all goes well, he hopes to get Peake into a Capitals preseason game Friday at USAir Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the meantime, Portland coach Barry Trotz said that if Peake looks good in practice again today, he would play him tomorrow in Hershey, Pa., against the Bears.

Peake said he felt a little sore "here and there" yesterday after the 1 1/2 -hour practice, but added the only thing he needs "is a little confidence in my timing."

NOTES: Rookie Olaf Kolzig will start in goal tonight against the Senators in Ottawa, and rookie G Byron Dafoe will do the same tomorrow against the Senators. "Both of them made huge saves over the past weekend," said Murray. "There isn't any rush, but I think by the time we get to the game in Philly next Sunday, we should know which of them will be the backup" opening night in Winnipeg on Oct. 6. Kolzig and Dafoe get this chance because G Rick Tabaracci tore ligaments in his right knee last week. . . . The Caps returned LW John Varga to Tacoma (WHL) and RW Roman Kontsek returned to the Czech Republic to rejoin Dukla Trencin.

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