NAHL alums face one another in NHL on Saturday
It was one of those rare occurrences that is certainly noteworthy when talking about NAHL alumni. NAHL alums face one other on a nightly basis in the National Hockey League (NHL), but on Saturday night, two former NAHL goaltenders that played for the same NAHL team, put on a show during Hockey Day in Canada and gave everyone a night to remember.
NAHL and Texas Tornado alum Al Montoya was in goal for the Winnipeg Jets as they traveled to Ottawa to take on the Senators, who were backstopped by fellow NAHL and Texas Tornado alum Ben Bishop.
The Jets pulled off a big win over the Senators on Saturday, and Jets netminder Al Montoya earned a shutout, his second win of the season. Alexei Ponikarovsky got the lone goal for Winnipeg, tipping a shot past Senators goaltender Ben Bishop in the third period. Montoya stopped 33 shots to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Ottawa had no answer for Montoya, who replaced an ailing Ondrej Pavelec (flu) and recorded his first shutout of the season and third of his career. Montoya was making just his second start of the season. In his one previous appearance against his former team, the New York Islanders, he made 21 saves as the Jets got a goal from Evander Kane for an overtime win.
"The team really battled for me," Montoya said. "I felt for the start of every period we were in control of the puck and sometimes you want to see shots, but I felt good and I felt comfortable out there. I felt like I did everything to prepare for this game."
Like Montoya, Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop made just his second start of the season as Craig Anderson got the day off. Bishop was solid, finishing with 36 saves.
"Ben Bishop was outstanding in the net for us," Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean said. "He really played well but we weren't even good enough. The last 10 minutes after they scored is when we actually started to play. They were way better than us. Montoya played very well for them. We had 80 attempts at the net but we didn't have enough people at the net."
The sixth overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft, Montoya was drafted by the New York Rangers, but didn’t reach the NHL until the 2008-09 season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Montoya made in NAHL debut with the Texas Tornado when he was just 15-years-old during the 2000-01 season when he helped backstop Texas to their first Robertson Cup Championship. Following his season with Texas in the NAHL, he went onto play for the US National Development Program and the University of Michigan.
Bishop was drafted a year later in the 3rd round (#85 overall) by the St. Louis Blues in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted following the 2004-05 season, which he spent playing in the NAHL for the Texas Tornado and led them to their third Robertson Cup Championship. After earning a scholarship to the University of Maine, where he played for three years, he made his NHL debut with the Blues in the 2008-09 season. This is his second season with the Senators.
Noteworthy: A third NAHL and Tornado alum Stephane Da Costa, a forward for the Ottawa Senators, also played in the game. DaCosta played in the NAHL for the Tornado during the 2006-07 season.