Heeter Impressive In Phantoms Camp

 

Cal Heeter, a candidate to man the pipes for the Trenton Titans, made 20 saves in a 2-1 Adirondack Phantoms loss to the Albany Devils today (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

If you can’t go to Phantoms camp, let Phantoms camp come to you. Adirondack visited for a preseason “scrimmage” against the Albany Devils in Newark today, and I got a chance to get my first look at players who could be in Trenton, and another look at those who’ve already been there.

Although, Niko Hovinen was assigned to the Titans to start tonight’s preseason game, it isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that he’ll be Trenton’s goaltender this year. At least that’s not the impression I got from my chat with Adirondack head coach Terry Murray, anyway.

“(Scott) Munroe has come in as the veteran guy, he signed in the off-season,” Murray told me.

“We want to give the young guys an opportunity to show us who they are. None of us really know either one of them that well. Now that each one of them has a game under their belt, I think Hovinen plays again tonight (for Trenton) and we’re going to go back and watch that game back at the training camp facility and we’ll get another look at him.”

It had long been rumored that it would be Cal Heeter and not Hovinen who would be capital city-bound.

“He competes very hard,” said Murray of Heeter. “He really battles, he works hard to find the puck in traffic. He can make the quick instinctive save. He saw the puck, he caught the puck well today. But overall, I think the one word is just ‘competitive.'”

Heeter was, in my own one word, sharp on Friday. He allowed only two goals, both on odd-man rush situations, and made several big stops to keep his team in it. He seemed like he was ready for the AHL level — his next official pro game will be his first — but only time will tell if that’s how it plays out.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well,” Heeter said.

“I don’t really worry about what the other guys are doing, it’s not something I can control. I just go out in practice and the game and work out whatever it is and do the best I can. We’ll see where the chips fall at the end of the day.”

The 23-year-old was signed by the Flyers after four years at Ohio State, and is still making the adjustment to the pro style of play.

“Just the overall quality and depth of each team (is a big adjustment),” he said.  “Every guy on the ice has a good shot, is a good skater, knows the game of hockey…as opposed to college, where the first two lines are pretty good, and after that there’s a little bit of a dropoff.”

Although Heeter and surely Hovinen want to start the season at the AHL level, it may be better for their respective development to begin the year in Trenton, where the starter would get more playing time than they might if they had to back up Munroe. 

With that said, Heeter wouldn’t mind beginning the year with the Titans.

“Obviously, I’ll go wherever they put me.  It doesn’t matter where I end up,” he said.

“I’ll give the same effort and give my all if they put me in Trenton or Adirondack, it doesn’t matter to me.  I’d much prefer to be playing in the AHL, but if that’s not what they see fit, I totally understand and I’ll go down and work as hard as I can until I get that chance.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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