By Bob Rotruck
The 2012-13 season is fast approaching. And Phantoms
fans will be cheering for two newcomers defending
the net this year. Niko Hovinen from Finland and
Cal Heeter out of Ohio State both appear likely
to make their way to Glens Falls.
Nothing is official until the Opening Night roster
is set for the team's first game on October 13
against the Portland Pirates. But Flyers officials
have gone on record as saying they are looking
at Hovinen and Heeter in Adirondack for what will
be the first AHL season for both players. And
it so happens they are also going to be two of
the tallest players on the team. Are we sure this
isn't a basketball team? Seems to be a "growing"
trend (get it? Haha!!) of goalies getting taller
Niko Hovinen is a big boy. The
24-year-old checks in at 6'7" so has a pretty
awesome wing-span to reach from post to post.
While this will be his first season in the AHL,
and in North America, he has improved rapidly
in his time in the Finland League with the Lahti
Last year was the best season yet for the Helsinki,
Finland native as he played in 41 games going
21-12-6 with a 2.26 goals against average and
a very strong .920 saves percentage. He was originally
a draft choice of the Minnesota Wild in 2006 in
the fifth round before signing with the Flyers
organization in May, 2011 while continuing to
play in the SM-liiga in Finland for his fifth
Flyers Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor
told NHL.com his thoughts about Hovinen. "Our
guys over there saw a lot of him and they really
liked him," Pryor said. "Number- and
performance-wise he did very well. We feel like
he should be able to come over here and continue
on with his development. … He looks like
he's going to be able to give himself a good opportunity
to have a good career over here."
Hovinen will be the tallest goalie in the AHL
this coming season. If and when he makes it to
the NHL then he would tie fellow big man Ben Bishop
as the tallest in league history. Both are 6'7"
(2.01 m). Bishop broke the NHL record as tallest
goalie while with the St. Louis Blues and then
was dealt to the Ottawa Senators organization
If Ottawa's Bishop is assigned to their AHL affiliate
then that means we could have a possible matchup
of TWO 6'7" goalie prospects when the Binghamton
Senators come up to Glens Falls to play the Adirondack
Phantoms on November 30th.
Some interesting trivia about Hovinen involve
his talented and athletic parents. The marriage
of Seppo Hovinen and Ulla Lundholm was an Olympics
merger with both having represented their country
in the javelin and discus respectively. Seppo
Hovinen was rated #1 in the world in javelin in
1975 and his personal best of 93.54 meters in
1976 fell just a half-meter shy of breaking the
world record at the time. He competed in the Montreal
Olympics in 1976. And Ulla Lundholm Hovinen holds
the all-time Finnish record for the women's discuss
with her 67 meter throw in 1983 which still stands
today as the best in her country's history. She
finished fourth at the Los Angeles Olympics in
More recently, Niko Hovinen had the opportunity
to represent his country on an international stage
at the 2011 World Championships as the team's
third goalie. He did not get game action in the
tournament but still was part of the ultimate
thrill when Finland took the gold medal in the
tournament for the first time since 1995.
Cal Heeter left his hometown
of St. Louis to play collegitely for the Buckeyes
at Ohio State in the prestigious Central Collegiate
Hockey Association against some of the top teams
and prospects in the country. Last July, he was
the eldest of the 43 players at the 2012 Flyers
Prospect Camp at 23 years old.
Heeter signed with the Flyers organization last
March after posting good numbers at Ohio State
going 13-11-5 with a 2.45 goals against average
and a .918 saves percentage. He's not as big tall
as Hovinen but he's still pretty big at 6'4".
"Neil Little [scout] liked him, athletically
and fundamentally," Pryor said. "Neil
saw him extensively. … We thought it was
a good situation for Cal. We're happy with him.
He's going to go onto the American league right
now and battle for ice time. Both him and Hovinen
will give us a nice tandem [in Adirondack]."
Little also says that his athletic abilities
allow him to move with the quickness of a six-footer
even though he's 6'4" which is why he refers
to him as a "tremendous prospect." Another
aspect that seems to have caught the attention
of several in the organization is his confidence
and the way he carries himself. Goaltending can
be as much a mental game as anything else so that
is something Flyers' goaltending coach Jeff Reese
has commented on publicly as well.
In his four-year career at Ohio State, Heeter
was 39-36-11, 2.58. ,915 in a total of 94 games.
He was named team MVP at Ohio State in his junior
season and was CCHA Goalie of the Week FIVE different
times. He also hit the books extremely well and
was a three-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and
two-time Academic Big-Ten.
He posted five shutouts in his college career
including a 40-save masterpiece against top-ranked
Miami (Ohio) University on January 7, 2011.
There's a ton of talent with both of these tall
drinks of water. They may be new to us now but
they have had some great success against top-level
competition for several years and both are well-prepared
for the rigors of an AHL season.
Get ready for the Hovinen-Heeter tandem!
Opening Night is coming! The Adirondack Phantoms
season opener will be Saturday, October 13 at
the Glens Falls Civic Center featuring great retro-style
red jerseys that will be auctioned to the fans
Get great savings with the Phantoms when you purchase
a season ticket PLUS never waste a ticket. Your
unused game tickets can be redeemed for future
Phantoms games. 22-game and 12-game packages available
I'm In! We need 1,756 season ticket holders for
next season to conclusively prove the viability
of Glens Falls as a great hockey market. The league
and other teams are watching! We're already off
a great start. Keep it up, fans! To join the "I'm
In" campaign, contribute your $50 down-payment
to a season ticket for 2012-13 or ask about a
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do this. Call
the Adirondack Phantoms at (518) 480-3355.