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Meet Your New Phantoms Goalies

August 19, 2012


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 and bigger.

 

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 Pelicans.

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 season there.

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 last February.

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 1984.

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 following
the game.

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 as well.

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 to
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 22-pack or 12-pack ticket plan. Together we can do this. Call
the Adirondack Phantoms at (518) 480-3355.

 

 

 

 




 
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