NEW YORK (AP) -Rookie goalie Steve Mason has shown the Columbus Blue Jackets that he is ready for the NHL. Now he has a chance to prove it on a much bigger stage.
Mason has taken the Blue Jackets' starting job away from injured Pascal Leclaire and run with it. In his first 23 games this season, Mason went 13-9-1 with five shutouts and posted a stellar 1.82 goals-against average.
That earned him a spot in the NHL YoungStars game in which a team of rookies will face second-year players on Jan. 24 during All-Star weekend in Montreal.
Mason's challenge will be great against a formidable squad of sophomore stars.
Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, Devin Setoguchi of the San Jose Sharks and Atlanta's Bryan Little headline the second-year players who will take part in the 3-on-3 All-Star showcase. Erik Ersberg of the Los Angeles Kings will be in goal at the opposite side of the rink from Mason.
The rookie team is led by a pair of 19-year-old defensemen - Toronto's Luke Schenn and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty - and up front by forwards Kris Versteeg of Chicago, Boston's Blake Wheeler and Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues.
The other rookie forwards are Dallas' James Neal, Michael Frolik of the Florida Panthers, Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker and Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in last June's draft by Tampa Bay.
The second-year defensemen include Marc Staal of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh's Kris Letang. Edmonton's Andrew Cogliano, Milan Lucic of Boston, Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky, and Vancouver Canucks left wing Mason Raymond round out the forward unit for the sophomores. Dubinsky was the MVP of last year's game at Atlanta.
This will be the sixth YoungStars game, but the first using the rookie-sophomore format.