by Kalen Qually || AHL On The Beat Archive
Many of the AHL’s top players spent the final weekend in January traveling to Hershey, Pa., to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic.
For those that didn’t, they likely went home to enjoy a few days away from a demanding 80-game schedule.
Meanwhile, Manitoba Moose goaltender Eddie Lack was stranded in Winnipeg.
“There weren’t many guys around,” said Lack, who arrived from Sweden in September and did not fly home during the four-day break. “I went to Nolan Baumgartner’s house one day and had some fun.”
Other than that, Lack had time to reflect on what has been a very successful first season for a goalie that arrived at Vancouver Canucks training camp as more of an unknown entity than a prodigy.
“I had very little information on Eddie before he arrived here,” said Moose goaltending coach Rick St. Croix, “other than that he impressed some people in Vancouver’s training camp and that he had become a legitimate prospect (for the Canucks).”
Since being assigned to the Moose, Lack has gone from slotted backup to carrying the workload on many nights. His play has been so impressive that Lack earned Reebok/AHL Goaltender of the Month honors for December when the Swedish rookie posted seven wins and two losses, along with a .935 save percentage, 1.99 goals-against average, and a shutout.
“Lack has great size and is agile for a big man,” said St. Croix. “He’s got great low coverage with quick legs and quick hands. He’s very quick side-to-side with excellent mobility. He’s building on that and has been playing well for us.”
One other favorable goaltending trait Lack possesses is his very easygoing and affable personality. “It’s who he is,” said St. Croix. “He smiles a lot and he’s fun to be around.”
The lanky Swede went undrafted and largely unnoticed by NHL scouts until last season. Vancouver’s scouting staff picked up on Lack as a 22-year-old playing for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, sharing the net with current Rochester Americans goalie Jacob Markstrom.
While his successful start is encouraging, it certainly does not guarantee future NHL stardom. St. Croix worked with another current NHL goaltender that recently departed Manitoba after working through a lengthy adjustment period.
“I don’t think anything is ever solidified in the short run. It has to be proven over a longer haul,” said St. Croix. “When you look at Cory Schneider, he did it for us right after the first month and he was here for another two years.”
Lack credits some of his success to the goalie coaches in Manitoba and Vancouver. “Since getting here,” said Lack, “I’ve learned a lot with Rick and Rollie (Melanson) and I just try to work hard every day to adjust.”
It’s been a smooth adjustment but he still has personal goals to fulfill. “I want to save every puck,” said Lack with a wry smile. “I know that’s not possible but I’m going to try.”