MacIntyre the new go-to guy in Milwaukee

by Peter Shannon || AHL On The Beat Archive

macintyre-head_200.jpgFor the first time since 2004-05, Pekka Rinne will not be the Milwaukee Admirals’ number one goaltender this season. But Milwaukee has replaced one AHL All-Star goalie with another: Drew MacIntyre.

And according to Admirals head coach Lane Lambert, “Drew is definitely our number one guy.”

MacIntyre was born and raised in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the summers were gorgeous and there was hockey to be played all year round. Growing up, he always knew that he wanted to be a goalie. Whether it was on the pond with his friends or in the basement getting tennis balls fired at him by his father, MacIntyre was constantly between the pipes and never thought twice about any other position.

Couple that with the fact that his dad and many of his uncles manned the crease, and he knew he was destined to follow down the same path.

After four years of hard work playing juniors for the Sherbrooke Beavers, MacIntyre was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and began his first season of professional hockey in the ECHL. He played just 11 games in his rookie season with Toldeo due to a thigh injury, and then spent the next two years bouncing back and forth between the Storm and the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate.

MacIntyre had a break-out season in 2005-06 when he posted a 24-7-8 record in Toledo with a minuscule 2.06 goals-against average, and also an 8-4 record with the Griffins. In the Calder Cup Playoffs he led the AHL in goals against (1.62) and save percentage (.940) and helped Grand Rapids reach the Western Conference Finals, where they were bounced by, of all teams, the Admirals.

Less than a month prior to the start of the 2006-07 campaign, MacIntyre was dealt from Detroit to Vancouver and played the next two seasons with the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks AHL affiate. As a member of the Moose, he recorded 49 wins against just 30 losses and allowed just 2.26 goals per game. He also earned the right to play in the AHL All-Star Game in the 2007-08 season, and was the winning goalie.

“(The All-Star Game) was something I’ll never forget,” said MacIntyre. “It was an awesome experience both on and off the ice. The game went really well. We came back in the third and I won in a shootout. I had my wife’s parents come to the game, and my father. It was the only time I was really able to see him all year so it was really cool to get him there.”

In 2007, MacIntyre was called up for two NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks, in what he considers his best hockey memory and something that he is very thankful for. His first game was on Dec. 13 at San Jose where he came on in relief of Curtis Sanford in the second period and stopped nine of 11 shots in a no-decision.

His second game, also a relief appearance, was at home against Dallas. He came in with the Canucks down 3-1, but despite stopping 10 of 11 shots he was saddled with the loss as Vancouver fell 4-3.

“The first one in San Jose, it was a moment that I’ll never forget. I remember just skating to the net and feeling so grateful for the moment. The second one, against Dallas, was really cool because I got to play in front of the home crowd. We ended up making it really close, and I ended up getting a loss because I let in a goal in the third period. But both experiences are definitely something I could get used to.”

MacIntyre has played in an All-Star Game and competed against the best in the NHL, but he also holds claim to a feat that not many other netminders have accomplished: scoring a goal. And not just any goal, but a game-winner in overtime.

macintyre_200.jpgIt happened last Feb. 20 when the Moose traveled to Chicago just as the playoff chase was beginning. With the score deadlocked at 1-1 after 60 minutes of play the two teams went into OT and the Wolves pulled goalie Ondrej Pavelec on a delayed penalty.

Now the storybook ending would have been for MacIntyre to bravely head behind the net to scoop up a Chicago dump-in, corral the puck and then feather it 190 feet to the other end of the ice where it trickles into the Wolves net.

But in reality MacIntyre didn’t shoot the puck himself, but he was the last player to touch it before a player from the Chicago Wolves attempted a pass from behind the net to his teammate on the blue line. The pass missed its target and sailed all the way down the ice and into the net.

Fantasy or reality, the result was the same: on OT win and his name on the scoresheet.

“I really didn’t do anything, the puck just touched the knob of my stick. I didn’t even know I scored until after the game. It was still a really unique, cool experience.”

Coach Lambert seems pretty confident in his new prize between the pipes, but he also expects MacIntyre to act as a leader on this young Admirals team.

“We brought him in as a leader, knowing full well that he was a great character guy and family guy,” Lambert said. “From that standpoint I knew that off the ice he would be a great guy as well: one that we could count on and lean on in terms of leadership and playing the role as an older guy.”

Like most hockey players, MacIntyre’s Admirals teammates spend their free time resting, hanging out, playing video games, and enjoying the nightlife. But MacIntyre on the other hand is spending much of his time preparing for fatherhood as he and his wife Karen are expecting a baby this December. The two have been busy shopping and getting the apartment ready. Seeing that they aren’t giving in to finding out if it’s going to be a boy or a girl, the shopping has been somewhat hard for Drew and Karen.

“We’re getting all the essentials ready, you know, the crib and everything. It’s really exciting. We’re not finding out, it’ll be a bit of a surprise. We both made the decision earlier on and obviously there’s been times where we wanted to find out. It’s something we’ve waited on for so long so we might as well wait out the whole thing.”

While he might not be doing a lot of the customary activities of hockey players away from the ice, he does share one long held hockey tradition: he is superstitious. But don’t try and find out what they because MacIntyre isn’t talking.

“I guess one of my big superstitions is to not talk about my superstitions,” he said, laughing. “All I can say is that if things are going well, I’ll probably keep doing things the way I do.”

Assuming he keeps doing things the way he does, the Admirals will do just fine this season.