by Jeff Wendland || AHL On The Beat Archive
A youngster himself in professional hockey, Quad City Flames second-year defenseman Tim Ramholt has been treated more like a grizzled veteran this season.
Surrounded by even more youth, Ramholt has been counted on to log huge minutes this season and he’s loving every second of it.
"Absolutely, I love it," Ramholt said. "It doesn’t wear me down and it tells me that the coaches have confidence in me. I enjoy it that they’re not afraid to put me out there in any situations. My confidence is high this year and I believe I deserve the ice time."
This from a guy who at this time last season was just gaining enough respect from his coach to play him in key situations.
"He was a first-year pro last season and it takes time for them to really get it," Flames coach Ryan McGill said. "It took him until the middle or latter part of February to figure it out.
"This season, I had to make sure I kept and eye on Ramholt because you don’t want him going backward. He and Adam Pardy have logged a lot of minutes and, as a coach, my expectation is that they keep pushing themselves and not depend on me to do it."
McGill believes Ramholt is a key to the success the Flames can have the rest of the way, but the average fan may not notice if he’s doing his job or not.
"He’s a player who can dominate a game with his ability to handle and move the puck," McGill said. "His job for us is to defend his goal and do the job in a smart way. We’re not expecting him to score goals or pile up points on the power play."
Ramholt’s not so sure he wants the bar to be set that low. He believes he can be a bigger part of the QC offense. To date, he has four goals and 12 assists.
"For us to complete this season the way we want, we have to score more goals," Ramholt said. "We can’t keep thinking we can win scoring one or two a game. I believe I’m a part of that plan. I can score some goals, I do it in practice and I’ve had a lot of chances in games lately."
Goals can come in bunches, and Ramholt knows his time could come at any point. Likewise, he hopes another number on his statistical line will take a turn for the better the rest of the way.
Ramholt has a plus/minus rating of minus-5 and expects that to be much better.
"I was a ‘plus’ defenseman until the last month or so and then I kept piling up minuses," he said. "I don’t think I’m playing any worse, it’s just circumstances. It seems like I’m never on the ice when we score and it’s hard to build that number up that way.
"It makes you even more amazed at Brett Palin (plus-17). He’s a great player and it’s just worked out well for him. I’m going to keep plugging away and know it will be a lot different if we can start scoring."
Jeff Wendland covers the Flames and the AHL for the (Moline) Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus