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Looking To Seize An Opportunity

Goaltending invitees look to have successful week at Camp and land a pro contract with Panthers.

Thursday, 07.05.2012 / 5:10 PM / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
University of Denver Goaltender Sam Brittain is the only prospect netminder in Development Camp.

Looking at the Development Camp list, one will see Panthers draft picks - especially high ones - dotted throughout the forward and defenseman positions.

But if you look closer at the goaltending position, you'll notice that just one player is a Panthers draft pick at camp at the JetBlue Practice Facility this week.

The Panthers have just seven goaltenders in their entire organization and with only 2010 fourth round pick (92nd overall) Sam Brittain in camp, Florida invited three netminders to the week-long experience. Brittain just completed an injury shortened sophomore season at the University of Denver which he went 8-4 with a 2.36 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.

"We've got a lot of prospects up front and on the back end," said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce prior to Camp to the Star Phoenix. "Where we are thin, at the amateur level, is with our goalie prospects."

While undrafted, the three goalies invited do have some very good resumes to their credit.

Michael Hauser took home the OHL Player of the Year as well as CHL Goaltender of the Year awards in leading London to the Memorial Cup finals as OHL Champs with a 46-15-1 record and a 2.47 goals against average. Andrey Makarov was the Saskatoon Blades' MVP while posting a 29-21-2 record with a 3.01 GAA and Andrew Volkening had a 16-15-6 record but earned a 2.44 GAA in his last season with the Air Force Academy (2009-10).

For these trio, it's a chance to try to impress and try to land a professional contract with the Panthers.

"I think any time you come into a camp like this, there's two ways to approach it," said Panthers Goaltending Coach Robb Tallas. "Some guys come in looking at the experience of it and the awe and other guys come in to proving something. The guys that come in with that attitude of proving something, usually good things happen."

"It's an unbelievable organization. It's got everything for a hockey player," said Makarov, the 19-year old Kazan, Russia native who decided that North America was a better place for his game and came over in an Import Draft to the Lewiston MAINEiacs. "You (worry about) just play(ing) hockey. Just do your job. It's a lot of fun."

Although impressing in a Camp like this could be difficult...Or it could even be a break.

"For the position of goalie, sometimes camps you can really stand out," said Tallas. "It's almost easier. You have all the forwards on the ice and you're looking at them. Unless they get the pass and they're in the right position. For a goalie, if you happen to be on that team, you're the one getting all the shots and standing in and bringing your game and standing on your head, you get recognized pretty quickly.

"Unfortunately you can be on the other side and be feeling great and not getting shots and kind of get overlooked."

"I don't know. They're tough practices," said Makarov about trying to impress. "(Just hope) that there's a lot of shooting with the shooting drills. Just try to stop everything and play with my style."

Sometimes it might not seem like it would take much to catch the Panthers brass eyes.

"Through camp there's times that goalies can really put a spark all of a sudden and I kind of think that has happened. There's a couple of goalies here that are really good goalies. There's three new faces here.

"There's been some good goaltending."

Where the goaltenders can really shine are the scrimmages. Those can be a make or break situation for them as they try to land a contract and become part of the Florida Panthers organization. In Thursday's action, it was Hauser that caught Tallas' eye. Friday on the other hand could be totally different.

"You hope that they recognize that. That there is opportunity and I think that's one thing that Kevin has always had an approach to and Dale that if you come in and play well, stand out, we're going to take a serious look," said Tallas. "We're going to open some doors. Hopefully they see that opportunity."

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