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Thrashers goalie Pavelec to skate with team Tuesday

by John Manasso
DULUTH, Ga. -- Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec is scheduled to skate with the team on Tuesday for the first time since collapsing and losing consciousness during the Thrashers' Oct. 8 season opener, the team said on Monday. Pavelec also has been cleared medically to play pending one more test.
"Yeah, he has to do one more test tomorrow," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said of Pavelec, who suffered a concussion after fainting at the 2:25 mark of the first period in the Thrashers' game at Philips Arena against Washington. "That shouldn't interfere with him at least practicing, which would be nice to see him get back out there and that's one step closer to playing a game. He's not at that level yet. We're just going to get him on the ice and we'll see what comes from this test and get him started back."
Pavelec's final remaining test is a neuro-pysch test, which all players who suffer concussions must undergo. The team is unlikely to know the results of the test before its morning practice or by the time Pavelec addresses the media publicly for the first time following it.
The 23-year-old gave those present and watching on television quite a scare when he had to be removed from the ice on a stretcher. He remained hospitalized for two days, undergoing a battery of tests. Those tests only revealed what team doctors deemed a "neurocardiogenic syncope episode" -- which the Thrashers explained in layman's terms as a type of fainting spell.
If he is cleared, he will have missed less than two weeks. Ramsay was not ready to speculate as to when he might get in a game but the Thrashers, off to a 3-2-0 start for 6 points, need him, owing to their schedule. Coming off three games in five days on a Western road trip, they play three games in four days this week, including important Southeast Division matches against teams with which they are tied or trail in the standings. They host Tampa Bay (6 points in four games) on Friday and visit Washington (8 points in five games) on Saturday.
Except for that first 2:25 of the season, Chris Mason has played every minute in goal. Peter Mannino, a career minor-leaguer who has only three NHL games to his credit, is the backup until Pavelec returns and will remain with the team for now, Ramsay said.
Ramsay was asked about the process for Pavelec to return in a game.
"I think like any player, he has to go out and play and practice," he said. "We tend to have our goalies be pretty busy in our practices. We try to go short and there's lots of shots on them. I felt kind of bad for Mason today with all the shots we did in his zone. He was getting drilled. For a kid who faced 80 [shots] in two games in two nights -- but he's a tremendous competitor.
"He gave us a chance to win. We took advantage of it. We showed him no mercy today and that's what Pav will get when he comes back. He'll go in and face all of those shots and he'll see pucks pretty quickly."
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