Colby Cave adjusting on the fly
When you go from being one of the older players in Juniors to one of the younger players on the Providence Bruins, an adjustment to the professional game may take a bit longer than expected. Rookie Colby Cave is certainly learning that harsh lesson.
Despite experiencing some growing pains during his first season in the American Hockey League (he’s a minus-10 in 40 games), Cave is starting to realize that adjusting takes time and with the help of his coaches and fellow rookies, he can continue to improve.
“It’s been good so far. Going from one of the younger guys in the Western Hockey League to now being one of the younger guys in the league and being a long way from home, [adjusting to the pro game] takes some time,” Cave said after the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime defeat to the Portland Pirates that snapped Providence’s 10-game home winning streak this past Sunday. “But we have a really good coaching staff here and a locker room full of a great group of guys as well as some great leadership.”
Playing on a team with several rookies, including linemate Anton Blidh, Cave credits his fellow first-year teammates in helping his adjustment to the league.
“We tend to push each other. We all want to move up in the lineup and eventually move up to the big club. I think it’s good that we have that competition. We like to help each other out, but at the same time, we like to push each other,” Cave said of his young teammates. “You can’t be a good hockey team without a little competition and with a group of guys from all over, it’s good to see how they react to things, and they can give you pointers and, in turn, you can help them out with something they’re struggling with.”
Cave’s teammates, whether rookies or veterans, have their fair share of praises for the 21-year old native of Saskatchewan.
Said Cave’s other linemate Zack Phillips, “He’s a really reliable player. He’s good on faceoffs and good defensively. You always know he’s going to be in the right spot and he works extremely hard. It’s nice to know that when you make a mistake, he’s always going to have your back.”
When Cave looks for the great leadership the team has, he can always turn to Phillips.
“I just try to stay positive with him. He’s very good defensively, and that’s something players usually have to work on when they come out of Juniors, but he’s been playing like a pro since he’s been here,” Cave said about Phillips. “I just try to help him out with whatever he needs help with.”
Being good defensively is certainly Cave’s repertoire, as he routinely sees time on Providence’s penalty kill as is regularly called on to take key draws in the defensive zone. His efforts from the neutral zone in has earned him some praises from Bruce Cassidy.
“He’s solid in the middle of the ice,” said the Providence coach. “I think he’s been real good in between the dots in terms of positioning, supporting the puck and distributing the puck and we’re happy with him.”
However, both Cassidy and Cave know there’s always room for improvement.
“He’s contributed a little bit offensively, but right now he’s in a bit of a funk,” Cassidy said about Cave. “The things we’ve asked him to be better at is his pace and to be a little heavier during his battles along the boards.”
“I just have to be more consistent,” added Cave, who hasn’t scored since December 11, a span of 17 games. “I have to come in focused every night and win those little puck battles and being competitive.”