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Ex-RPI Goalie Marsters Off to Good Start with Portland

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 1, 2006

Aside from two trips to his old college stomping grounds, Nathan Marsters has quite enjoyed his first AHL season.

The former RPI goaltender allowed only eight goals in winning his first seven AHL starts for Portland, beginning with a 25-save effort at home against the Albany River Rats Oct. 16.

Not bad, considering the 25-year-old Marsters was expected to start the year where he ended last season, in the East Coast League.

"Nate's a guy that was on his way out. He started training camp and earned himself a two-way AHL contract but almost got sent down," Pirates coach Kevin Dineen said. "We had a few transitions and, next thing you know, he found a spot on this team.

"He came in and had a heckuva lot to prove and he really stepped on it. He's been getting it done for us."

The injury of Jean-Sebastien Giguere forced Anaheim to summon Mike Wall from Portland, opening the door for Marsters. Entering the weekend, he was 11-4, 2.95, .906 in 18 games.

"Winning early definitely helps the confidence," Marsters said. "You're never sure if you're going to be around, but you win a few games and you feel more at ease.

"I really didn't think I was going to end up being here this year. I got a chance to play, and played well. I'm grateful for the way things turned out."

Drafted by Los Angeles in 2000, Marsters reportedly turned down an offer to play in Manchester last season and wound up spending the entire year in Louisiana, going 18-30-4, 3.51, .901 in 54 games.

"It was good for me to learn the pro game coming out of college," he said. "It was nice to play a bunch of games and get used to the bus rides and all that. It was good."

Marsters won 50 games for RPI from 2000-04, going 21-13-1, 2.15, .922 as a senior. In his two games in Albany this season, he had 22 saves in a 4-3 loss Dec. 2 and was pulled after allowing five goals on 21 shots in a 7-6 overtime loss Dec. 27.

"It's nice coming back," he said. "You see some fans from the [Houston] Field House, so that's pretty special."

HEALEY HONORED

Ex-RPI sniper Eric Healey was named captain of PlanetUSA for the AHL all-star festivities Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It will be the second all-star appearance for Healey, 30, who played in the 2002 game in St. John's, Newfoundland. Healey, who made his NHL debut for Boston Nov. 25, led Providence with 16 goals and 32 points in 27 games. He played his 400 th AHL game Dec. 28.

Manitoba forward Jimmy Roy will serve as Canada's captain. Roy, 30, has played 569 pro games over nine seasons, all of them for the Moose in the IHL and AHL. He is the franchise leader in games, goals (97), game-winners (15) and penalty minutes (1,369).

"I'm in shock," Roy told the Sun. "My mom's reaction was the funniest. I told her I was playing in the all-star game and she said, 'Why?'"

BACK IN ACTION

By mid-December, Mantioba had played the most games in the AHL (34), capping a stretch of 16 games in 23 days with a 1-0 win over San Antonio. That was followed by an 11-day break that ended with games Thursday and Saturday at home against Toronto. Colonie native and Saratoga Springs resident Craig Darby assisted on Thursday's OT winner.

"I know I'm not used to this," Darby told the Free Press. He had six goals and 17 assists as one of only four Moose to play in all 35 games. "This is the longest break I've had in my pro career. It was tough, I'm sure, for everybody, no matter how much they skated or worked out."

ON THE MARK

Philadelphia's John Slaney netted the winning goal in the third period of a 3-1 triumph in Norfolk Dec. 28. His 17 th point of the season gave Slaney 453 for his AHL career, tying him with Steve Kraftcheck for the all-time scoring lead among league defensemen.

Slaney, 33, had 155 goals and 298 assists in 531 career games for Baltimore, Portland, Cornwall, Wilkes-Barre and the Phantoms, where he was 6-11-17 in 33 games this season. Philadelphia hosted Bridgeport Friday and was at Hershey Saturday.

Kraftcheck went 67-386-453 over 13 AHL seasons from 1949-64 for Rochester, the Providence Reds and original Cleveland Barons. In 1959, Kraftcheck became the inaugural winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL's top defenseman. Slaney won the award in 2000 and 2001.

SHORT STINT

After three days, Wilkes-Barre captain Alain Nasreddine was forced to give up his dual title as assistant coach. Nasreddine got the job after head coach Michel Therrien and assistant Mike Yeo were promoted to Pittsburgh Dec. 15 and replaced by Hall of Famer Joe Mullen, who had been an assistant with the NHL Penguins.

Prior to a game at Hershey Dec. 18, Nasreddine was informed by the league of AHL rule 14(b), which says a player-coach can't also serve as captain. "The only reason they gave me a title was to help Joey out a little more," Nasreddine told the Times Leader. "If he needs me, I'm there."

Former NHL defenseman and coach Al Sims has since been hired to assist Mullen, who was 5-2 in his first seven games as head coach. In those games, the Pens had allowed just six goals, with three shutouts.

EARLY ERUPTION

Wilkes-Barre scored seven first-period goals on 10 shots in an 8-1 rout of Hershey Dec. 26, setting several team records in the process. Konstantin Koltsov (two), Noah Welch, Chris Kelleher, Jonathan Filewich, Kenny Corupe and Maxime Talbot scored against Bears goalies Frederic Cassivi and Kirk Daubenspeck. It was the first time an AHL team had scored as many goals in a period since Providence got seven in the second period of a 9-3 win over New Haven on Feb. 3, 1999.

Wilkes-Barre established club marks for most goals in a period and fastest four (2:59), five (4:32), six (6:05) and seven (8:44) goals. In all, the Pens had five powerplay goals, another single-game record. For Hershey, the seven goals matched the second-most allowed in a period in its 68-year history.

EX-FILES

Both Brian Gionta and Brian Rolston have been named to Team USA for the February Olympics in Italy. Gionta led New Jersey with 21 goals and 37 points in 38 games, while Rolston topped Minnesota with 17 goals and 37 points in 38 games. Sascha Goc will also play in the Olympics for Germany. A defenseman, Goc was 8-9-17 and plus-2 with 108 PIM in 35 games this season for the Hannover Scorpions.

Rats rookie Nicklas Bergfors had the only goal for Sweden in a 5-1 loss to Russia in its World Junior Championships opener Dec. 26. Bergfors had no points in a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic two days later. The Swedes played Latvia Friday and Slovakia on Saturday.

Joel Bouchard, who broke a bone in his right shoulder on the first shift of the season, has returned to practice with Bridgeport and may return before the month is out.

Scott Cameron was scoreless and minus-1 with two PIM in three games for Grand Rapids last month before being sent back to Dayton (ECHL), where he led the Bombers with 21 assists, 31 points and a plus-6 rating in 25 games.

Ted Drury is on the ballot for the DEL all-star game, which will have a team of German league imports play the national team as an Olympic tuneup. Drury leads Krefeld in scoring with 18-17-35 in 31 games.

Denis Pederson was one of 19 players with AHL roots to participate in the Spengler Cup, which wrapped up Saturday night in Davos, Switzerland. Pederson plays for Eisbaren Berlin, one of five teams in the tournament. He was 12-14-26 in 32 games this season.

QUOTEBOOK

"All I heard for years was that this was a tough rink to come into, and right now it's not. If we need to make a trade to get some tougher guys in here, than we will." Norfolk coach Mike Haviland, to the Virginian-Pilot, after a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia that dropped the Admirals home mark to 7-11.

There is one week left in fan balloting at the ahl upcoming all-star game. Players with the most votes will be named to the starting lineup . . . Ex-RPI All-American Neil Little, who is playing this season in Finland, was named to the Philadelphia Phantoms' 10th anniversary team as first-team goalie. He is the only member of both the 1998 and 2005 Calder Cup champions . . . Grand Rapids defenseman Clay Wilson went 4-1-5 with two winning goals in three games to be named player of the week. Only 10 players were nominated, none from Albany . . .

Including Bergfors, five AHL players are taking part in the WJC, which end Thursday: Hershey's Chris Bourque (USA), Houston's Roman Volashenko (Russia), Portland's Ladislav Smid (Czech Republic) and Manchester's Lauri Tukonen, who is Finland's captain . . . Manitoba's Rick Rypien, cousin of 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, had a goal in his NHL debut for Vancouver last weekend . . .

Kirby Law scored his leagueleading 21 st goal to help Houston beat Iowa Dec. 28, his 500 th career AHL game. The Aeros have won seven straight at the Toyota Center. The same night, Portland rookie Corey Perry had two goals in a 5-2 win over Manchester to push his scoring streak to an AHL-high 15 games, all since being sent down by Anaheim Nov. 22 . . . After scoring nine points in 12 games, defenseman Anders Eriksson asked for and was granted a release from Springfield.