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Stars’ Climie steps up to be counted

by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com

Goalie Matt Climie began the season making history for the Texas Stars, and he hopes to end it the same way.

That’s the easy part. The bigger challenge is not getting a chance to put your name in the record books at all.

"I think it’s harder to watch a game from the bench than when you are actually playing," he said. "When you are playing, you are a factor. You get on the ice, you get in a zone out there."

Climie has made that type of neighborhood his home the past couple weeks. As a result, the first-year Stars have moved into the high-rent district of the American Hockey League with a Calder Cup Finals date against defending champion Hershey.

Climie’s gut has been forged out of steel lately. He came on in relief of injured starter Brent Krahn in Game 6 of the West Division Finals against Chicago, then beat the host Wolves in a Game 7 overtime.

With Krahn out the entire Western Conference Finals against Hamilton, Climie played every contest and stole Games 6 and 7 on the road by making a total of 92 saves. In the postseason, he’s 5-3 with a .922 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average in 10 appearances.

"The nerves are definitely there. I just have fun out there," he said. "When I’m away from the rink, I don’t put too much thought into it. I relax. I feel good, stretched out. When the puck drops, I leave it out on the ice."

Climie, 27, got a wide range of seasoning in 2008-09, playing for Idaho of the East Coast Hockey League, Dallas of the NHL and then Houston of the AHL. His five games with the Aeros all came in the playoffs, where he posted a 1-1 record with a .945 save percentage and a 1.88 goals-against.

"The experience was definitely good. It goes a long way," he said of his first AHL playoff minutes.

Climie got credit for the first win in Texas history on Oct. 3, a 3-2 overtime victory against San Antonio. He also stopped 25 shots for the Stars first shutout, a 2-0 win against Grand Rapids on Oct. 15. Overall he was 21-17-3 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in the regular season.

"I’m not surprised," Climie said of his success. "I’ve had a couple successful pro seasons. I feel I’m a good goaltender. You look at our D-corps, we have a lot of experience out there."

The numbers would suggest that Climie and the Stars (affiliate of the Dallas Stars) are simply the final form Hershey (affiliate of the Washington Capitals) has to finish off to place its order for a second straight Calder Cup. But Texas’ two Game 7 wins on the road — becoming the fourth team in AHL history to pull that off in the same postseason — speak to the group’s ability to fight its way upstream.

"That’s just the character of the guys on our team. We’re confident in ourselves," Climie said. "There’s still games to be played. It’s been a great ride so far. You start worrying about (being an underdog), it gets in your head. We have that team identity, we find a way to win."

Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com. Read today’s complete column here.