"I play with a lot of confidence down here. I know when I come down to the East Coast, my job is to dominate and create as many points as possible. You come down with maybe a little more fire in your belly. That's what I'm here to prove at some point, that I don't belong here." -- Jacob Micflikier
The rest of the ECHL has to be wondering right about now when Micflikier is finally going to get his big break and stick up there.
Micflikier, 25, has been particularly vengeful of late. In six games since getting sent down from Albany earlier this month, he has 5 goals and 12 assists.
"I play with a lot of confidence down here," he understated. "I know when I come down to the East Coast, my job is to dominate and create as many points as possible. You come down with maybe a little more fire in your belly. That's what I'm here to prove at some point, that I don't belong here."
It's been an annual struggle. In 2007-08, Micflikier went 1-4 in eight games with Springfield and 10-27 in 29 games with Stockton. Last season, he went 4-12 in 39 games with Rochester and 10-14 in 10 games with Florida. Those numbers take on an even greater shine because injuries limited his minutes.
This season, he tallied 1 goal in three games with the River Rats and is a spectacular 8-16 in 11 games with the Everblades.
"Personally, I'd like to think I have the ability (to play in the AHL). I had enough games in Rochester last year to know. I feel like I can gauge where I'm at in terms of ability," he said. "Every time is different. Every situation is different. You have to know it comes with the business."
Micflikier can't predict when his next recall will come, but until it does the momentum from his last up-and-down figures to help him keep arguing his case.
"You try to be as consistent as possible. At the same time, it's a long season," he said. "I've been having to work for some of the points I'm getting. It's not coming easy. In the meantime, I have enough energy early in the season. Some of the points I'm getting, it is because of the guys around me. I'm going to keep the desire to want to keep succeeding up. I'm going to keep putting up the points to get noticed."
Tkaczuk in Charlotte -- New Charlotte forward Daniel Tkaczuk joined the Charlotte Checkers on Nov. 13, just in time for a three-in-three stretch. It was the first such run for the veteran since, well, he can't remember since when.
"It's great, because if you make a mistake, you can go right back out there and fix it," he said.
Leave it to the voice of experience to slap a happy face on what everyone else sees as a grind. Then again, it's better than the alternative.
Tkaczuk, 30, had nothing going on this fall and was trying to stay in shape at his home in Barrie, Ont., after playing the last six seasons in Finland, Italy and Germany. It was a long stay overseas after what seemed like too short of a run in North America.
Tkaczuk was the No. 6 overall pick by Calgary in 1997 and was productive in two solid seasons in Saint John. In 19 games for Calgary in 2000-01, he produced 4 goals and 7 assists.
Those 19 games, not eye-catching but certainly not terrible, would be his only action in the NHL.
The next season, he was traded to the St. Louis organization and came up with just 37 points in 75 games with Worcester. In 2002-03 he was loaned to Bridgeport, and could find only 27 points in 69 games. Upon reflection, he said he wasn't a good fit with the third-line role the Blues tried to put him in.
"Maybe I should have adapted better, looking back on it," he said. "That's what you try to instill in these kids. You have to do well at this level to get to the next level."
Tkaczuk said he remained confident something would open up somewhere this season, even as fall started turning the corner to winter. His payoff to the Checkers for their faith has been immediate, with one goal and five assists in his first four games.
Perry perking up -- Fans of the Utah Grizzlies might want to consider all chipping in so that forward A.J. Perry can get the NHL package on TV.
Perry is the younger brother of Anaheim's Corey Perry. A.J. got off to a slow start in Utah, and one night he watched his brother's game on the service.
A.J. saw Corey grind out a couple goals between the hashmarks. A.J. decided he had to start playing that way, too, and began putting up the points himself. The free tutorial was doomed to be short-lived, though.
"We don't have the NHL package any more. We had it for the first month as a preview. We decided not to pay for it," A.J. said. "It's a lot of money for what we make down here."
The buffet of NHL games will be missed, but probably not to the detriment of his game. That's because Perry, 22, decided to make a long-term investment in his career last summer.
Typically, he spent his off-seasons at his home in Peterborough. Last off-season, he decided to move to London, Ont., and train full-time with his brother.
A.J. already had a scoring touch, as evidenced by his 56 points in 45 games for Arizona of the CHL last season. A bit of refinement has him off to a strong start in the ECHL, with 6 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. In particular, A.J. credits his brother for a quicker release and a sharper one-timer.
"He knows the game. He works hard," A.J. said. "You can learn from anyone. Obviously, he's doing the right things. I try to take as much as I can from him."
Around the ECHL -- Charlotte coach Derek Wilkinson earned his 200th career win in the Checkers' 6-4 win over Elmira on Nov. 15. ... Elmira set multiple club and 2009-2010 ECHL team records in an 11-3 crushing of Gwinnett on Nov. 14, including most goals scored by the Jackals since the team joined the ECHL in 2007 and the most scored by any team this season; the largest margin of victory this season in the ECHL; the largest points total by a team this season (30); the most assists by a team this season (19); and most goals by an ECHL player in one game (Justin Donati, four). ... Wheeling's Blair Yaworski scored his first goal of the season Nov. 13 against Johnstown. Last year, playing for the Chiefs, Yaworski potted 11 of his 18 goals against the Nailers. ... Victoria's first three wins this season all came by shutout. ... Against Wheeling on Nov. 14, Chris Zarb became the third Johnstown player to post a point in his debut after being acquired in-season. Jim McKenzie scored a goal Oct. 30 at Trenton and Bryan Marshall had an assist Nov. 11 vs. Reading. ... Reading's loss in Johnstown on Nov. 11 extended what is now an eight game winless streak (0-6-2) for the Royals at the Chiefs. But the Royals' 3-2 win over Trenton on Nov. 13 snapped Reading's six-game losing streak against the Devils. ...The Royals have erased deficits in six of their eight wins this season.