After grabbing netminder Tyler Weiman
in the fifth round of the 2002 Entry Draft, Colorado has taken its time breaking him in at a few different places and levels.
Right now, the fit is looking as comfy as the one between a young goalie's hand and his favorite glove. Nearly seven years into the relationship -- and at a stage when most prospects would be more than itchy -- Weiman is both settling in and taking off. His six shutouts for Lake Erie pace the AHL, his goals-against average of 2.33 is fourth and his save percentage of .922 is tied for sixth.
"You don't realize until you get drafted and go to camp how far (away) you are from playing in the National Hockey League,” said Weiman, 24. "I had a lot of proving to do. You have to prove you're better than the next guy. Right now, I'm a Lake Erie Monster. You never want to look too far forward. You just have to wait your shot."
Weiman got one of those last season, in his one and only game with the Avalanche. Colorado had him zig-zagging the minors to reach that brief apex. As a rookie in 2004-05, he played for the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League. The next year he played for San Diego of the ECHL and Lowell of the AHL. In 2006-07 he played for Albany, before joining Lake Erie last season. All of that time, he remained Avalanche property.
"I've played in all levels of hockey. It's made me stronger, the places I've played. It's been an uphill battle," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Weiman. "Everybody doubts you. You're not a first- or second-rounder, you're not over 6-foot-2. You wonder when you are going to get your shot. Sometimes you shake your head."
But not for too long. The tipoff to Weiman's success is that at a point now when he might have gotten stale in the organization, his numbers are better than ever by far. Last season, for instance, he was 3.32, .903. In his one season in Albany, he was 2.99, .905. And this season he's standing tall for a Monsters team that, while improving, is still much more challenger than contender.
"We take a lot of pride how we've turned around the year systems-wise. We pay more attention to detail. We hold everybody accountable," Weiman said. "It's just another learning curve in your career. You have to get stronger, faster. The biggest thing is to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them."
Opportunity knocking --
There are chances and there are opportunities. Houston forward Matt Beaudoin
found out the difference between the two when he signed a tryout deal with the Aeros on Jan 6.
Beaudoin had gotten AHL cracks before in his two-year pro career. Several, to be exact. He played briefly with Iowa, Hershey and Rochester last year and got minutes with San Antonio and Milwaukee this season.
But no team plopped him onto a line with Benoit Pouliot
and Corey Locke
, as the Aeros did this season when Krys Kolanos
was recalled. Beaudoin responded with 3 goals and 3 assists in his first 11 games, after garnering one assist in his 14 career AHL contests prior to Houston.
"Every time I got (sent) back to the Coast, I was like, ‘Oh, will I ever get a chance to show what I can do? How am I going to get that ice time?"' said Beaudoin, who has played with Las Vegas and Dayton of the ECHL. "If you are in my situation, you have to start at the bottom."
Kolanos was sent back to Houston on Jan. 29, but forward Peter Olvecky
was recalled to Minnesota the day before. That might give Beaudoin a reprieve from one of his least favorite activities -- packing up and moving on again.
"It gets old, I'll tell you that," he said. "It's not something I enjoy doing. It's something I do because I want to play hockey. If you get a chance to go (to a team) even for a week, you have to go and hope it's going to be a good one."
Captain emerges in Hartford --
Naming a captain isn't a decision that should be rushed into, and Hartford coach Ken Gernander
and his players certainly gave the issue a lot of thought this season.
Last week, a little past the midway point of the schedule, a players' vote installed forward Greg Moore
as the man who wears the "C." Several players alternated with an "A" up to that point.
Gernander, Hartford's captain from 1997-2005, said roster flux involving several potential candidates through the season prevented the team from getting an early gauge on the situation.
"It went on a lot longer than we planned. You want the guys to know one another and see who emerges as a leader. It wasn't like we didn't have leadership. But there are times when it's important to have a captain, have a message come from the top."
-- Greg Moore on being named captain
"It went on a lot longer than we planned," he said of the process. "You want the guys to know one another and see who emerges as a leader. It wasn't like we didn't have leadership. But there are times when it's important to have a captain, have a message come from the top."
Moore, a third-year pro, has 14 goals and 12 assists for the Wolf Pack this season. In his first game as captain, Jan. 30 vs. Bridgeport, Moore scored a shorthanded goal.
"You have to give us the good part of the season to see the characteristics and the traits of your teammates. It means a lot that the rest of the team voted on it, that they see you in that light," Moore said. "Now that we are along this far in the season, we know each other so well. The new faces aren't so new. You just feel so much more comfortable with everybody."
Around the AHL --
The Ottawa Senators
announced Feb. 4 that Curtis Hunt
will take over as head coach of Binghamton. Binghamton’s bench boss, Cory Clouston, was named Ottawa Senators
head coach on Feb. 2. Hunt becomes the fourth head coach in B-Sens franchise history. Manitoba captain Mike Keane
played in his 1,500th professional regular-season hockey game Feb. 3 vs. Lake Erie. ... Frank Miceli and Peter White
have been selected to the Philadelphia Phantoms Hall of Fame. Miceli was the COO of the Phantoms from their inaugural season in 1996 until October. White is the all-time leading scorer in Phantoms history, with 153 goals and 319 assists. ... Six Griffins posted multi-point nights in an 8-4 win against Rochester on Jan. 31. The eight goals were the most scored by Grand Rapids since a 9-2 win at Cleveland on Feb. 16, 2006, and their most at Van Andel Arena since a 9-1 mauling of Utah on Feb. 24, 2002. ... Grand Rapids played five consecutive OT games from Jan. 19-30. ... Hamilton's Mike Glumac
is on a road points streak of 15 games, an AHL high this season. ... With a 2-1 comeback win at Philadelphia's Spectrum on Jan. 31, the River Rats won their first game in that building since Nov. 3, 2006 and snapped a six-game losing streak there. The output was also Albany's largest goals total against Phantoms goalie Scott Munroe
, who had held the River Rats to one goal or less in his previous five starts. ... The AHL enjoyed one of its highest-attended weekends in recent years Jan. 30-31, with a total of 197,015 fans witnessing the 28 games on the schedule -- an average of 7,036 fans per game. It was the fourth-highest total for a two-day span since the start of the 2005-06 season. The league-wide turnout of 102,538 on Jan. 31 marked the fourth-highest single-day draw in the last four seasons. ... Hershey has gone above the 200,000 mark in regular-season attendance for the 23rd consecutive season. ... San Antonio has played a league-high 51 games this season; only a league-low three have gone into overtime.