With Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko being the proud owners of the Vancouver goal crease, it’s going to be a full house in Utica as the Comets will have four goaltenders vying for valuable playing time. With faces new and old, and some resumes more extensive than others, it will be a can’t-miss display of netminding at the AHL level.
Richard Bachman (32 years old, 11th year pro, fifth with Utica)
A familiar face, Bachman appeared in just nine games last season after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury during a December game in Springfield. At 32 years old, the Denver native has been a constant in the Comets locker room for the previous four seasons. He took Demko under his wing in 2016 and was integral in his development into a reliable NHL goaltender.
Ultimately, Bachman’s job duties are more than see puck, stop puck. He’s also tasked with being one of the seasoned members of the dressing room who’s challenged to teach some of the younger players (especially goalies) the ins and outs of the whole pro hockey business.
And as long as Bachman can keep doing stuff like THIS, there’s no reason why he can’t still be considered a go-to guy at this level.
Michael DiPietro (20 years old, first-year pro)
DiPietro is insanely decorated coming out of the junior ranks. While playing in the OHL, he was an All-Rookie teamer in 2016, a Memorial Cup champion in 2017, the Goalie of the Year in 2018, and had the league’s best GAA in 2019. There’s not much space on his already jam-packed trophy shelf for anything else, but he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure it keeps getting filled. Oh, he was also Team Canada’s starting goalie at last year’s World Junior Championships. Like we said… decorated.
Can DiPietro make an immediate impact at the AHL level at just 20 years old? He’s won at every level he’s played so far, and as a third round pick of the Canucks in 2017, they’re confident that he’s not done racking up the accolades.
Jake Kielly (22 years old, first-year pro)
Another one of the young netminders, Kielly was signed as a free agent by Vancouver after three seasons at Clarkson University. In two of his three seasons in college, he kept his GAA under 2.00 and he averaged over 21 wins per season during his career. He was impossible to ignore, as he was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team as a freshman, the Third All-Star Team as a sophomore, and was an ECAC champion and Second All-Star Team member as a junior last year.
Kielly also backstopped the Clark Cup (USHL) winning Tri City Storm in 2016.
Zane McIntyre (26 years old, fifth-year pro, first with Utica)
McIntyre has been tasked with being the #1 goaltender for the Providence Bruins the past two seasons. He rolled to the tune of a 25-21-2 record a season ago, marking his second-straight 25+ win season. With the Boston/Providence organization since 2015-16 (he was a 2010 draft pick of BOS), McIntyre is getting a clean slate with the Canucks/Comets in 2018-19. A native of Grand Forks, ND, McIntyre led the AHL in shutouts two seasons ago and was an All-Star the year before that. McIntyre has known what it takes to be a productive goaltender at every level he’s played, dating back to his junior career with the Fargo Force and collegiate career with North Dakota. In 2011-12, he was the USHL Goaltender of the Year, and during his final year at NoDak, he was the NCAA’s Top Goaltender (Mike Richter Award) and a finalist for the Hobey Baker as the top player in the country.
He’s made the playoffs in every pro season and led the P-Bruins to the Eastern Conference Finals during 2017. Will change of scenery for McIntyre can be something that helps him lead a team to lift the Calder Cup in June?
We don’t quite know who’s going to swipe the top spot in net for the Comets this season, but what we do know is that a four-headed monster of insanely talented goalies will be putting on one heck of a show all season long.