By Brian Compton
NHL.com Staff Writer
Each year, Texas Wildcatters coach Malcolm Cameron likes to take his team on a preseason journey that he believes will help bring it closer together.
In 2002, he took the Cincinnati Cyclones to Europe. Last season, he and the Wildcatters spent more than a week in southwestern Florida.
This October, the Wildcatters were in Alaska, doing all types of team-building exercises, from bowling to sightseeing.
Ten games into the 2007-08 campaign, it’s become pretty clear – and painfully obvious to the majority of the South Division – that Cameron’s exercises have paid off. Texas is off to an 8-1-1 start, outscoring its opponents 41-24 along the way.
“We went to Alaska for a week, and then we flew right to Atlanta to play Augusta and Charlotte to start the season,” said Cameron, now in his second season in Texas after spending the previous two with the Long Beach Ice Dogs. “I think all those days on the road really brings your team together. The guys are pretty tight. I think our chemistry right now is something that I wouldn’t have expected to see until maybe late December.”
One of the many reasons for the Wildcatters’ early season success is veteran forward John McNabb. The 29-year-old – who spent the past three years with the Austin Ice Bats in the Central Hockey League – has racked up 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in the first 10 games of the season.
The Calgary native is pleased to be back in the ECHL, where he hasn’t played since splitting the 2003-04 season between Long Beach and Florida. He finished with 29 goals, 30 assists and 94 penalty minutes.
“It’s a change of pace,” McNabb said. “It’s a little bit quicker. It’s a little bit of a challenge. It’s a little different from the Central League, but the leagues are pretty much comparable. The first lines are, anyway, that’s for sure.”