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GOALIES VYING FOR BACKUP JOB

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
The best part of any professional sports team’s training camp is watching players compete for jobs.


The Coyotes have five goaltenders in camp, and while Ilya Bryzgalov clearly has a firm grip on the starting job, coaches and management are watching the others to see who will earn the backup job.

Jason LaBarbera is the lead horse in that race right now,” General Manager Don Maloney said while watching Monday’s workouts inside Jobing.com Arena. “He’s been in the NHL now for a few years and he has a style similar to Ilya’s in that when he is on he can be very good, and when he is off he can be not so good. So, we signed him because has good instincts for the game. The other guys are challenging him.”

The Coyotes signed LaBarbera, who stands 6-foot-3, to a two-year contract on the first day of free agency this summer.
Jason LaBarbera

“He’s a big body in the net and I like the way he reads games,” Maloney said. “Plus, he’s hungry to win games.”

LaBarbera has won 37 games in three-plus NHL seasons. His career goals-against average is 2.97.

“It’s a fresh slate for me here,” LaBarbera said. “I don’t know how it’s all going to play out but you just have to go out there and do your best and be a good team guy. …I know Ilya’s been the guy here for the last couple of years and he’s played really well. So if I can help him and he can help me, I think it will be good.”

Based on a strong showing at the end of last season, Al Montoya appears to be LaBarbera’s main competition for the backup job. Josh Tordjman and Joel Gistedt also are in camp.

Montoya played most of the 2008-09 season for Phoenix’s top affiliate in San Antonio. In April, he played five games for the Coyotes and won three of them, including a shutout of Colorado in his NHL debut. His goals-against average was 2.08.

Al Montoya.
“Al has had a very good start to this camp,” Maloney said. “He looks fluid and in shape. He had a real good finish to his season last year and I’m sure he’ll make a push here. Let’s see if he can muscle his way into the Opening Day roster. The same goes for Josh Tordjman. Josh had a great season in San Antonio and he’s come into camp and looks strong so far.”

Montoya, who spent part of the off-season playing for Team USA at the IIHF World Championship, on Monday said he wasn’t disappointed the Coyotes signed LaBarbera in the off-season. He also said he is looking forward to competing for a roster spot.

“I’m feeling strong,” Montoya said. “I came in here this year with the intent of being better, stronger and quicker, and at the first day of testing I surpassed all my scores from last year. That was a positive, and I feel good on the ice. I just have to keep it going and play my best in the preseason games and make them make a tough decision. ”

Editor’s Note: The Coyotes will play two preseason games on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings. One will be played at Jobing.com Arena at 7 p.m. The other game will be played simultaneously at the Staples Center.

Here is the roster for Tuesday's game at Jobing.com Arena:

GOALTENDERS
Ilya Bryzgalov
Josh Tordjman

DEFENSEMEN
Zbynek Michalek
Jim Vandermeer
Adrian Aucoin
Kurt Sauer
Ed Jovanovski
Michael Stone

FORWARDS
Scottie Upshall
Martin Hanzal
Matthew Lombardi
Petr Prucha
Radim Vrbata
Shane Doan
Jeff Hoggan
Vern Fiddler
Brett MacLean
Justin Bernhardt
David Spina
Francis Lessard
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