by Damon Markiewicz || AHL On The Beat Archive
Springfield Falcons rookie goaltender Karri Ramo has probably been the Falcons’ most valuable player during the 2006-07 season, and on Jan. 28, the first-year pro was named the Rbk Hockey Top Goaltender during the AHL’s Skills Competition, part of the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto, Ont.
Ramo stopped 15 of 19 shooters during the skills event and absorbed the entire experience.
"It was a lot of fun, it’s really exciting to be a part of such a great event with so many great players," said Ramo, who joined Manny Legace, Scott Langkow, David LeNeveu and Robert Esche as Falcons goaltenders named an AHL All-Star. "I just tried to do my best and it worked out well, there were a lot of great shooters. It was an honor to be able to represent the Falcons."
Ramo helped the PlanetUSA Team defeat the Canadian AHL All-Stars in the skills competition and it was Ramo holding down the fort in three different events.
To start the evening, it was the Rapid Fire event and Ramo displayed the skills that many Falcons fans have seen all season long as the youngster stopped seven of 10 shooters. Next up, the Pass and Score event and Ramo was once again solid stopping all three shooters before heading into the Breakaway Relay, where the Finland native stopped five of six shooters.
Ramo leads all AHL goaltenders in shootout wins this year, so it was no surprise Ramo was steady in the Breakaway Relay.
"I started to feel more comfortable in the shootout and on breakaways as this season went on," said Ramo, who leads all Falcons goaltenders in wins and games played. "You just have to react quickly to the shooters and try to do your best, I was able to make some saves, it was nice helping the team win."
The very next evening, Ramo made his American Hockey League All-Star debut. The Birds rookie netminder played in the second period for the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars stopping nine of the 12 shots he faced in 20 minutes of action.
Ramo’s PlanetUSA All-Star teammates beat the Canadian AHL All-Stars 7-6 with Hartford’s Ryan Callahan scoring the game-winner with just three seconds remaining in regulation.
For Ramo, the All-Star Game was the conclusion of an exciting weekend of hockey on the AHL’s biggest showcase of talent displaying many future NHL All-Stars and Ramo headed back to Springfield having gained some valuable All-Star experience.
"The weekend was exciting and anytime you have the chance to be part of an All-Star Game, it’s a great honor," said Ramo. "I just wanted to relax and enjoy the game, there were a lot of great players and it’s fun meeting some of the players you go up against during the season."
Ramo was Springfield’s lone representative at the mid-season classic and his performance at the AHL All-Star Game this season was just one of many memorable moments for the 20-year-old in his fine season with the Birds.
"It’s amazing to be mentioned with players who have been able to play in the NHL," said Ramo, who made his NHL debut as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning in December. "You never know what to expect as a rookie, but hopefully it’s just the first step, I am continuing to learn every day."
Ramo’s impressive season with Springfield earned the youngster a second recall to Tampa Bay on Mar. 18. As the Bolts make their playoff push, Ramo will once again have the chance to absorb some valuable experience.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play in the NHL and I want to learn every day,” said Ramo. “I was fortunate to get a lot of playing time in Springfield and no matter if you are playing or not playing, you can always learn and improve as a player.”