Goalie Al Montoya has waited four years for an opportunity to play in the NHL and he most likely will get it before the 2008-09 season ends.
“This is what I have been preparing towards for four years and there is no better time than now,” said Montoya, whom the Coyotes recalled on Monday from the San Antonio Rampage, the team’s top affiliate. “When that chance comes, I will be ready.”
Montoya practiced with the Coyotes for the first time on Tuesday morning. After the workout, Head Coach Wayne Gretzky told phoenixcoyotes.com that Montoya probably would make his first NHL start on April 1 against the Colorado Avalanche.
|Coyotes goalie Al Montoya talks about joining the team after being recalled on Monday from San Antonio. |
“It’s a good time for us to take a look at some of the other guys and give them an opportunity,” Gretzky said. “We haven’t seen him a lot but I thought he had a pretty good training camp. We were happy with the camp he had and I have been told in the last month that he has played really well in San Antonio, so we will give him an opportunity.”
In his last six outings with San Antonio, Montoya posted a 3-2-0 record, and a 1.50 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. He stopped 134 of the 142 shots he faced in that span.
“When I was down there, I was focusing day-to-day on being ready to play,” Montoya said.
Montoya, the sixth overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, started the season with San Antonio by losing 11 of his first 12 decisions. He battled back, however, and comes to Phoenix with a 7-17-2 record, and 3.23 goals-against average and a.909 save percentage.
“It was definitely a learning year and a tough year to start the season,” said Montoya, who left the University of Michigan to sign his first professional contract with the New York Rangers. “I got off to a shaky start, but learned a lot. I have been going out there with a good attitude and staying mentally prepared.”
Montoya was acquired from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline last season, but has had to wait to get his opportunity in the NHL.
“It’s exciting,” said Montoya, a self-described athletic goaltender who was acquired with Marcel Hossa from the Rangers for Fredrik Sjostrom, David LeNeveu and Josh Gratton. “The plan was to be up here earlier, but I am up here now and I am going to take advantage of it. Right now, I just want to be ready to play when I get that chance and at the same time, go out there and have good practices and look good out there.”