GLENDALE – There’s an old song by rock-‘n’-roll icon Steve Winwood called "While You See a Chance." And while the classic 1980 tune certainly was not penned about a young goalie trying to make it in the NHL, the song’s title nicely describes rookie Louis Domingue’s mindset to his late-season audition with the Coyotes.
"There’s an open roster spot right now for a backup goalie and I’m trying to grab my chance," Domingue said after Tuesday’s practice. "It doesn’t come around that often so when it does you have to take it. I don’t ask questions when things are coming my way, I just try to make the most of it."
So far, so good.
Domingue has appeared in four games for the Coyotes and has stopped 79 of 85 shots. In two starts – vs. Montreal and Nashville – he has allowed just two goals in each game and helped the Coyotes earn three out of a possible four points. Moreover, in his short stint with Arizona he already has posted a shutout streak of more than 100 minutes (106:28).
Despite playing just four games, Domingue said he feels comfortable in an NHL net and confident defending it.
"You never know if you’re ready to play in the NHL until you do, and I feel like I can compete with these guys and I can play here," he said.
His teammates sense poise in the 23-year-old netminder.
|Photo by Norm Hall |
"He’s been working real hard and he has that confidence for a young guy," forward Kyle Chipchura said after Monday’s game – his first at Gila River Arena. "I think we had trust in him and we were excited to see him play."
Domingue began his hockey career as a forward, but he said that he switched to goalie in his second season when the goalie on his team injured a finger and he jumped at the chance to be his replacement. Being an avid first baseman, he was attracted to gloving loose pucks like he enjoyed snaring throws across the diamond from his fellow infielders.
"I was actually better at playing baseball, but I just liked playing hockey more," Domingue said.
Growing up in Montreal, Domingue remembers being a fan of Canadiens goalie Jeff Hackett. He also recalls switching his team allegiance from Montreal to Boston after Hackett was traded to the hated Bruins in 2003.
Still, making his first NHL start – and earning his first NHL win – with his family watching in Montreal on Feb. 1 meant the world to him. The Coyotes rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.
"There was a lot of emotion in the first period," Domingue said after that game. "There was a lot to take in. I was still on a cloud, but as the game went on, I settled down and the team started playing better."
|Photo by Getty Images. |
Domingue credits his early NHL success to confidence gained at this season’s training camp, and, more specifically, to his performance in a preseason game the Coyotes played at San Jose on Sept. 26. Playing the third period and overtime in relief of Devan Dubnyk, Domingue stopped all 23 shots he faced in 25 minutes plus one more by Joe Pavelski in the shootout as Arizona won 2-1. It was after that game, Domingue says, that he began to believe he might actually play in the NHL some day.
"They gave me an opportunity to prove myself and to make a difference in that game," Domingue said. "I think that was the game that changed a lot for me in my camp and in my season."
Head Coach Dave Tippett has said Domingue will get some more starts over final few weeks of the campaign.
"He played a heck of a game for us," Tippett said after Monday’s game, in which Domingue made a career-high 38 saves against Nashville, the League’s eighth highest scoring team. "We plan on giving him some games. There are certain games I think (Mike Smith) should be in, but we’re going to plan on getting Louis some more games."