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MIGHTY DUCK NOTEBOOK / ROBYN NORWOOD

Shtalenkov Is the First World Cup Veteran to Return to Camp

September 11, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD

Goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov became the first of the defeated World Cup players to appear at Mighty Duck camp, arriving Tuesday morning while Team USA and Canada were in Philadelphia readying for Game 1 of the finals.

Shtalenkov was a member of the Russian team the Americans beat in the semifinals. Though he didn't see much of Ron Wilson--coach of Team USA and the Ducks--he smiled at one of their exchanges.

"After the first U.S. game, I told him, 'We'll see you in the semifinals and it will be different,' " Shtalenkov said. "He said, 'You think we played our best game? That was just 50%.' That's Ron Wilson."

Call it confidence or call it arrogance, but that kind of ribbing is routine when it comes to international hockey.

Duck defenseman Bobby Dollas, a Canadian, keeps telling the Americans "Silver is no disgrace"--a slogan Wilson won't let him forget if the U.S. team wins the gold.

Shtalenkov didn't practice Tuesday, stopping by Disney ICE briefly--as did Team Russia defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, who was traded in the Teemu Selanne deal last season and stopped by his family's Anaheim home before reporting to Phoenix.

Selanne and Jari Kurri, who played for Finland in the World Cup, are likely to drop off their equipment today, then take the ice for the first time Thursday along with Shtalenkov.

Shtalenkov didn't play in the tournament, appearing in one exhibition game, but he was disappointed by Russia's performance.

"We had a real talented team. I think everybody in Russia expected more from us," he said. "I thought we'd make the final at least, but I think when we played the U.S. team they probably were more strong at both ends."

Shtalenkov's role as a backup to Nikolai Khabibulin and Andrei Trefilov in the World Cup was familiar. He has been Guy Hebert's backup in Anaheim for parts of three seasons.

As for another season as Hebert's understudy, Shtalenkov exhibited his typically mild demeanor.

"Maybe I repeat myself, but I always say every year before training camp starts and before the season starts that I'll try to use every chance to play and try to do my best every night I play," he said. "I don't know. I'm always trying to be No. 1. That's all I can do."

*

The Ducks drafted goalie Tom Askey in 1993 and sat back to watch his progress at Ohio State.

He went 2-19 as a freshman--with a 6.07 goals-against average.

The next year, he went 3-19-4 with a 4.15 goals-against. As a junior, he was 4-19-2 with a 5.23 GAA. The Ducks went scrambling in search of other goalie prospects.

Granted, Askey was playing for bad teams, and bad teams can make even good goalies look wretched. Still, he had some work to do.

Ohio State wasn't much better last season at 8-17-5.

But Askey was 8-11-4--with a 3.05 GAA and a .913 save percentage.

"Until early February, I didn't think he was a legitimate prospect," said David McNab, the Ducks' assistant general manager. Then McNab saw him play against Michigan, and later against Bowling Green. "He was unbelievable," McNab said. "I thought there was no question he was the best collegiate goalie in the country last year."

Askey signed this summer, and probably will start his pro career with Baltimore in the American Hockey League.

"They weren't going to give me a contract after last year," Askey said. "They told me I wasn't ready to play. I probably wasn't, but I wanted to prove to them I was.

"It was tough, absolutely, to not win. You learn a lot about yourself. Things don't always go your way, so you find a way to turn a negative into a positive. It made me a much better goaltender to see all the shots I did."

Askey said Ohio State had a more defensive mindset last season, which helped. So did his own change of playing style, as he became more of a standup goalie.

Duck Notes

Center Johan Davidsson, a highly rated prospect, is scheduled to return to Sweden after today's practice. He and the team agreed he would visit for a taste of NHL training camp, though he missed Tuesday's workout because of illness. The Ducks are eager to sign him next summer, but will not risk losing his rights because Europeans are exempt from the three-year limit.

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