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Munn Provides What Haviland Wants

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 22, 2006

In the case of Steve Munn, being undrafted wasn't a case of being unwanted.

A steady if unspectacular defenseman for four seasons at RPI, the last two as captain, Munn made his pro debut for the UHL's Elmira Jackals in 2002 after finishing his senior year.

In his first full pro season, he played 81 regular-season and playoff games in helping Atlantic City to the ECHL's Kelly Cup title.

Munn and coach Mike Haviland stayed togther another year before Munn landed in Augusta and Havliland at Trenton. Haviland acquired Munn at last season's trade deadline, and they teamed up for another ECHL title with the Titans.

When Haviland was hired to take over the AHL's Norfolk Admirals, one of the first calls he made was to Munn.

"Certainly as a coach, you like to surround yourself with guys you feel comfortable with and rely on, and he's one of them that I do," Haviland said.

"He's a guy that comes to work every night. He's a smart player, he knows the system, he knows his role and he doesn't go outside his limitations. He's a guy that doesn't try to be something he's not, and that's what's made him successful."

After brief stops with Providence and Bridgeport, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Munn has flourished in his first real shot at the AHL. He played in all but one of Norfolk's first 38 games, with four assists, 60 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating, second best on the team.

Munn made the Admirals out of training camp as a tryout player, then was signed to an AHL deal two weeks into the season. He has been paired mostly with well-regarded Chicago prospect Dustin Byfuglien.

"The guys have been great right from the start, and made me feel comfortable," Munn said. "I feel like I'm fitting in well. I just want to keep doing what I do, and keep things simple."

That has been the hallmark of Munn's career. In 32 games last season for Augusta and Trenton, he ranked third among ECHL defensemen with a plus-30 rating.

He played six games with Bridgeport in 2003-04 and another four in the playoffs, and had two games with Providence in 2004-05, and was waiting for his first AHL goal.

Munn returned to the area for the first time this season in Norfolk's 4-3 loss at Albany last week. The Admirals come back twice more to the Pepsi Arena, on Feb. 22 and March 31.

At RPI, Munn had 33 points and 221 penalty minutes in 140 games from 1998-02.

"It was a great time. Absolutely. I can easily say it was the best four years of my life," he said. "I had an unbelievable experience there."

"Some of my best friends I have in the world were made there at RPI. It's always exciting for me to be able to come back and play in the Capital District."

GOOD CAUSE

Albany rookie David Clarkson is donating tickets to local children to attend Rats' games.

"Clarkie's Kids" will be guests at 10 games at Pepsi Arena this season. The first group, Albany Cougars Special Hockey Team, attended the 1,000th game in club history Jan. 14 vs. Manchester.

Clarkson is working with Rats vice president and broadcaster Jon Scherzer to select children of local charitable foundations and organizations.

"I went to a few schools, and saw a lot of kids who'd like to come to games but didn't have the money to come or would never get the chance," Clarkson said. "I wanted to do something for the kids. This is the first year I had the money to do it."

Clarkson leads the Rats both in scoring, with Aleksander Suglobov on recall to New Jersey, and penalty minutes.

HALL-BOUND

Scott "The Metter" Metcalfe will be inducted into the Amerks' Hall of Fame Feb. 19 prior to Rochester's game with Cleveland.

The franchise leader in penalty minutes with 1,424, Metcalfe, 39, went 137-212-349 in 499 games for the Amerks over nine seasons.

He came out of retirement to play three games for the Glens Falls-based Adirondack Ice-Hawks, now the Frostbite, in 2001-02.

Edmonton's first-round draft pick in 1985, Metcalfe played only 19 NHL games, but helped lead Rochester to its last Calder Cup title in 1996.

"He was old-school, old-time hockey. He showed up to play every night," former teammate and current Amerks GM Jody Gage told the Democrat & Chronicle.

EX-FILES

Mike Dunham went 2-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average and an .861 save percentage in a pair of starts for Gwinnett (ECHL), making a total of 31 saves, before being recalled to Atlanta last week. It was his first action since missing 28 games with a groin injury.

Cam Janssen played before 50 family members and friends in New Jersey's 5-3 win last week in St. Louis, his hometown debut. The Blues made a luxury suite available for Janssen, whose family sat right behind the Devils' bench. In 4:21 of ice time, he threw three big hits and fought Barrett Jackman in the second period.

In that game, Jay Pandolfo picked up his first penalty of the season, a high-sticking minor, in his 46th game. Pandolfo sealed the win on an empty-netter, his eighth goal.

Ray Schultz was 1-1-2 and plus-3 with six penalty minutes in Springfield's 5-3 loss to Syracuse Jan. 14, his first points since being acquired Jan. 9 for Brad Tiley.

For the second time this season, Scott Cameron signed a tryout with an AHL team. Scoreless in three games for Grand Rapids in December, Cameron was minus-1 with two penalty minutes in a 7-2 loss to Wilkes-Barre last week before being returned to Dayton (ECHL).

Jeff Christian had two goals and an assist in regulation, then scored one of three shootout goals to help the Northern Conference win the CHL all-star game, 10-9, last week in Hidalgo, Texas, home of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. Christian led the league with 32 goals and was second with 54 points in 35 games for Youngstown.

Frank Littlejohn will represent host Missouri in the UHL all-star game Wednesday at Family Arena in St. Charles. Littlejohn led the River Otters with 17 goals and had 110 penalty minutes in 35 games.

QUOTEBOOK

"I've got beer in the fridge and steaks in the freezer. Life is good."

Metcalfe, on life after hockey, to the Democrat & Chronicle.

AROUND THE BOARDS

Troy's Matt Murley was placed on injured reserve last week by the Penguins, with a laboral tear in his left shoulder. Murley was 1-5-6 with 24 penalty minutes in 41 games for the Penguins. . ..

Nick Parillo of Niskayuna has played 17 games for defending champion Colorado (CHL), with seven goals, five assists and 63 penalty minutes. . . .

Hartford rookie left wing Nigel Dawes went 6-1-7 in three games to be named player of the week. Goalie Frank Doyle (2-1, 1.33, .961, one assist) was Albany's nominee. . . .

After going half the season with three alternates, Wolf Pack players elected Craig Weller team captain last week. He replaces Ken Gernander, the only captain in the club's first eight seasons, who retired last summer to become an assistant coach. . . .

Bridgeport scored 17 seconds into overtime Sunday to improve to 5-0 against Lowell this season, with a 23-5 goal advantage. . . .

Chicago wore Mardi Grasthemed sweaters last week, and will today in honor of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. All but four will be auctioned to benefit the American Red Cross. . . .

The UHL will establish a fund to benefit the two children of Adirondack coach Marc Potvin, who was found dead in a Michigan hotel room Jan. 13. . . .

In his third AHL game, Kurtis McLean tied a franchise record with five points (1-4) last week as Wilkes-Barres routed Syracuse, 7-2. It is the most in a game since John Slaney went 1-4-5 on Jan. 21, 2000. . . .

Another MacLean, Donald, tied an AHL record with his second straight hat trick for Grand Rapids in a 6-3 win over Iowa last week. It was his fourth of the season, the most since John Tripp had as many for Hartford in 2001-02, giving him the league goal-scoring lead with 27.