McCollum Shines in Debut for Grand Rapids
Former Wings goaltender stops 23 shots in 3-1 victory
Posted: October 19, 2009 9:16AM; Updated: October 19, 2009 3:47PM
October 07, 2009, 4:30PMThomas McCollumGRAND
RAPIDS -- When Thomas McCollum first came to training camp last year,
he wondered if he should have a nickname his future teammates could use.
didn't need to worry. Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood and
goaltending coach Jim Bedard already had one picked out: Bullwinkle.
It stuck, and now appears on the back of McCollum's helmet.
"It doesn't bother me at all," McCollum said. "Seems to be working well."
It certainly did in his Griffins debut.
stopped 23 shots in Grand Rapids' 3-1 season-opening win against the
Peoria Rivermen on Oct. 3. After giving up a first-period goal, he
stopped the Rivermen over the final 53:28 of play for his first
McCollum -- however briefly -- currently leads
the American Hockey League in both goals against average (1.00) and
save percentage (.958).
At 19 years, 9 months, he also became
the youngest goaltender to play for the Griffins. Mathieu Chouinard was
20 years, 5 months when he won his debut with Grand Rapids on Oct. 6,
"It was a great start for him," Grand Rapids coach Curt
Fraser said. "It gets people paying attention to him now. He starts off
in Peoria against a really tough team and comes up with a win."
McCollum, the 30th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, was just happy to get his debut out of the way.
was extremely exciting," he said. "I was a little nervous going in,
obviously, my first professional game, but I settled in pretty nicely,
had a few fortunate bounces and the team played very well in front of
McCollum said he felt more comfortable as the game went on, which helped his confidence grow as well.
well in your first game always bodes well for the season," he said. "I
think playing well in that first game gives me confidence to know I can
play at this level and hopefully play very well."
serve as Daniel Larsson's backup when the Griffins travel to Toronto on
Saturday. McCollum hopes the two goalies will be able to help each
other throughout the season.
"We play fairly different styles,
but at the same time we can sort of teach each other different things,"
McCollum said. "Like I can learn from his lateral movement and stuff
where he's down on the ice, and he maybe can takes notes from my
positioning and when I try to use my size to my advantage."