Stars’ Smith shines as April’s top goalie

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mike Smith of the Iowa Stars has been named the Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month for April.

Smith went 5-1-0 in six appearances to close out the 2005-06 regular season, posting a 2.11 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage to backstop the Stars to a berth in the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.

With three teams battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division entering the month, Iowa’s postseason essentially began when the calendar turned to April. On Apr. 7, Smith made 26 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at Omaha, putting the Stars in sole possession of fourth place. Then, facing three critical meetings with Chicago in a four-day span, Smith helped the Stars knock the Wolves out of the race, making 35 saves in a 4-1 win on Apr. 8, and 35 more in a 5-4 overtime victory on Apr. 11. Smith closed out his regular season with 40 saves, followed by a perfect shootout performance, in a 4-3 victory at Peoria on Apr. 14.

In recognition of his achievement, Smith will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Stars home game.

Smith, a 2001 draft pick by the Dallas Stars, went 25-19-6 in 50 appearances for Iowa in 2005-06, ranking fourth in the league with a 2.50 goals-against average and seventh with a .917 save percentage. He also led all AHL goaltenders in scoring with six assists on the year. The 24-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., owns a career AHL record of 57-52-9 in 127 career games.

Other nominees for Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month include Wade Dubielewicz of Bridgeport, Dimitri Patzold of Cleveland, Jimmy Howard of Grand Rapids, Seamus Kotyk of Houston, Craig Kowalski of Lowell, Adam Munro of Norfolk, Derek Gustafson of Providence, Scott Stirling of San Antonio and Andrew Penner of Syracuse.