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Engelage Looking To Prove His Worth To Leafs

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Well, it had to happen.

Goalie Andrew Engelage has lost another hockey game.

Throw out a couple of playoff losses with the Windsor Spitfires, hardly blemishes since he finished the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup 14-2, and the 19-year old Engelage hasn’t lost a game since December 20.

Yes, that would be last December 20.

Engelage was beaten four times in the Leafs' rookies 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh at the Kitchener Auditorium, Wednesday.

Mikhail Stefanovich had the only goal for the Maple Leaf freshmen. The club sits at 2-1. They play one more game in the four-team tournament against Ottawa on Thursday night. Game time is 7 p.m.

“I think we had a couple of bright spots,” said coach Dallas Eakins. I thought Robert Slaney played very well, Viktor Stalberg showed his flash again. There are guys who when the competition grows a little more fierce, will drop off. That’s our challenge. From rookie camp, to main camp to the NHL exhibition games, you will start to see who can keep up.”

For Engelage, the road to the Leafs crease has been strewn with pitfalls.

He wasn’t drafted in his first year of OHL eligibility. That summer, he was cut by his AAA team in Oshawa. The next year he had to wait until the 13th round before his name was drawn.

And yet there he was in the Memorial Cup, backstopping the Spits to a national title.

“I think I finished 46-4-1. It was pretty incredible,” he said. “It takes a lot of things going your way. It takes a lot of bounces but at the same time a lot of good play.”

Engelage was passed over in the NHL draft as well, a fact that bothers him not at all.

“Some people think it takes goalies a little bit longer. I think that’s how I’ve been throughout my entire career. I worked hard and made my way up. It’s going to take time. I’m fully confident I’m going to put in the work. I’m confident I’m going to have success.”

The Leafs crease is a pretty busy place. Jonas Gustavsson has done nothing to discourage the notion that he is NHL ready. James Reimer worked his way up from the East Coast League and looks to be the incumbent goalie now that Justin Pogge is the goalie of the future for somebody else.

Engelage said putting on the Leafs jersey for a game for the first time means a little more to an Oshawa kid.

“It’s a dream come true to pull that jersey over your head. To finally do it today and get into my first game is pretty exciting.”

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