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Battle In Net At Rookie Camp

Thursday, 09.6.2007 / 9:00 PM ET / News
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Battle In Net At Rookie Camp
By Matthew F. Sacco

On the first day of Florida Panthers rookie camp, in the bowels of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium – a place …. – Panthers goalie coach Pierre Groulx is pacing between locker rooms, trying to arrange a little extra ice time for his talented pair of young netminders – David Shantz and Tyler Plante.

With franchise goalie Tomas Vokoun locked up for the next four years, Panthers fans aren’t likely to pay any mind to the so-called future of Florida goaltending. But if you ask Groulx, or anyone else on the Panthers staff for that matter, the franchise’s net-protecting duties are in good hands with Shantz and Plante.

“That’s the story of the tournament,” Groulx says as he ducks in to the coach’s locker room. “The Florida Panthers goaltending.”

If only he knows how right he is. True, the Cats will be looking for some stand out performances from their backstops once they open the four-team rookie tournament against Ottawa at 2 p.m. Friday. But the bigger story may be the battle for the third spot on the Panthers goaltending depth chart – behind Vokoun and backup Craig Anderson – which will be decided this weekend, and during the Panthers training camp starting on Sept. 13 in Vail, Colo.

“I think as a goalie, you always want to play with a guy that’s going to push you,” Shantz says of the competition. “You want somebody there who is going to bring out the best in you.”

That’s good news for the Cats rookies, who have had little success in this annual tournament since Shantz’s debut four years ago.

“We really haven’t been on a winning team in one of these things,” says Plante, who will start game one of the tourney tomorrow, and alternate with Shantz throughout the weekend. “No question, we’re here to win this thing.”

Shantz and Plante – who have become friends since their first camp together last season, and are known to text message eachother during the season – share a lot of common traits, not the least of which is an intense competitiveness.

“They’re both very intense,” Groulx says. “They both really want to win.”

And the similarities don’t stop there. They’re both butterfly style goalies, nauseatingly polite, and have handshakes that could crack walnuts. One difference, Groulx says, is that Plante is more vocal, and doesn’t hide his emotions. While Shantz, who is somewhat of a leader in the rookie locker room, is more introverted.

No matter where they wear their emotions, both are assured to be wearing professional uniforms this season. Shantz, who was spectacular early in the year with the Cats ECHL affiliate Florida Everblades, got a raw deal when his starting spot was hijacked by Hurricanes prospect Craig Kowalski after Shantz went out with a knee injury.

Plante, who signed his first contract with the team in May, will get his first taste of pro action this fall.  The next few weeks will decided who is with the Cats’ AHL in Rochester, and who is in Naples with the Everblades. It will also decided who the first goalie call up to the NHL will be, should anything happen to Vokoun or Anderson.

“They both have the potential to be very, very good goalies,” Groulx says. “They just have to keep working hard and stay focused.”

Talk to Plante or Shantz, and that seems like the plan.

“We’re in a great situation,” Shantz says. “We have a great opportunity here, we just have to focus on our games and keep moving forward.”

Plante echoes that statement.

“Obviously there’s two great goalies in front of us,” he says. “But that just makes us work harder. That’s what motivates us. That’s where we want to be. It’s a good goal to set.”

Click Here to discuss the goaltending battle on the message boards.

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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