TORONTO– Joe Colborne scored once and set up two more on Saturday as the Toronto Marlies downed the host St. John’s IceCaps 6-2 in AHL action.
The three-point outing means the 22-year-old has recorded eight points in his last four games and gives a sense that his offensive production is finally coming around after a poor start to the season.
“You just sometimes go through a stretch where no matter what you do it’s not going to work,” said Colborne. “The points have been coming, but I think the last month my game’s been (better) and I’ve been making plays. I’m just finally converting.”
Colborne’s has put up 12 points in his last 11 games, which is his most consistent contribution since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, but more importantly he is finally starting to score goals. Four of his five goals this season have come in his last seven contests and Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins is pleased with how Colborne’s overcome the inability to find the net.
“He’s been real diligent, coming in looking at his shifts and looking for answers,” said Eakins. “He hasn’t played the poor me card and he understands he’s young with time to develop. He’s taken some big steps forward over the last couple weeks.”
After having his left wrist and hand repaired with surgery in the off season, the former first-round selection was expected to be fresh and ready to step up his role this season with the Marlies. Instead he started the season with one goal in his first 24 games and from Nov. 13th to Dec. 15th he went 11 games without a single point.
Unable to find the net, Colborne teamed up with Eakins back in December before team practice to go through shooting drills. The third-year pro spent time firing at targets from the slot, one-timing the puck and shooting on the fly from the off wing with all effort put forth with the hope to end his drought.
“I didn’t forget how to shoot, but (Dallas) wanted to show he was in my corner and we’d work through it together,” said Colborne.
“The basics of offensive hockey,” is how Eakins referred to their on-ice sessions.
The Calgary, Alta. native now has five goals and 18 points in 32 games, which is still far below the expectation of someone who would have been invited to Maple Leafs’ training camp if it started in September and not January. Although, with his production picking up, Colborne will be rewarded with more ice time and a chance to show he’d like to be at an NHL camp alongside fellow prospects Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin.
“Once you see he’s got it going on the ice you try to find him more ice time,” said Eakins. “Everybody has some bumps in the road. He’s already battled through a tough start and he’s playing much better as of late.”
Toronto will face the IceCaps on Sunday in a make-up game for Friday’s tilt, which was postponed due to weather.