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Tracking the Storm

Bowman, Peters Get Another Crack

Friday, 12.16.2011 / 3:25 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Bowman, Peters Get Another Crack
Drayson Bowman has spent the last two seasons going back and forth between the American Hockey League and the National Hockey League, never able to cement a roster slot. Justin Peters broke into the NHL in February of 2010, but after a rocky road last season, the team brought in a veteran to back up Cam Ward.

Michael Smith
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So, both have spent the majority of this season with the Charlotte Checkers, still grinding their game out, working to get back to “the show.”

Now, with key guys out due to injury – Jeff Skinner with a concussion and Brian Boucher with a lower-body concern – Bowman and Peters are getting another shot with the big club.

“The key is that when you get your call, you’ve got to be ready. No excuses,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “These kids are jumping in and taking advantage of it.”

Bowman Makes Immediate Impact

Bowman was recalled just over a month ago in early November. He spent just a couple of games with the Hurricanes and logged only 13 minutes of ice time before being returned to the Checkers.

Last night, playing in his second game since being recalled for the second time this regular season, Bowman played 19:07, a career high for the 22-year-old. He scored two goals – nearly a third – and was named the first star of the game.

Coming into the game, Bowman was positioned on the third line wing, flanking Brandon Sutter and opposite Chad LaRose. But when the Canes came out a little bit flat in the first period, Muller moved Bowman up with Eric Staal, as he noticed that Bowman had a jump in his step, which could open up space for No. 12.

“He’s a young kid that’s got speed. From what I saw, he understands that we want to play a north game here,” Muller said.

Bowman seemed to thrive on that aggressive style of play Muller has been preaching. He utilized his breakout speed in the third period when he raced in all alone on goalie Cory Schneider in search of his third goal. Schneider reached out with his glove, stoning Bowman's backhand attempt.

“Really good save,” Bowman said of the save. “Those guys were chasing me pretty hard, so there wasn’t much else I could do.”

Last night’s performance should earn him another good look from Muller and the coaching staff in Florida on Sunday, especially if his energy level is comparable. For Bowman, a productive game on the ice and committed work level off the ice could mean the difference between the AHL and NHL.

So, Bowman was one of ten players who skated today in a limited practice.

“It’s one game – he’s got to keep plugging away,” Muller said, smiling.

“I can’t get too comfortable with my situation,” Bowman said. “I just have to keep trying to prove myself every night. Just because I scored two, it doesn’t mean I’m here forever.”

Peters Back in the RBC Center Crease

In early February of 2010, Peters made his NHL debut in Nassau Coliseum. He did so in spectacular fashion, making 34 saves on 35 shots as the Carolina Hurricanes took a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.

A year later, Peters was in the middle of a rough season. He wasn’t seeing a lot of starts – just 12 games played total by the end of the 82-game season – and when he did play, he struggled to find a rhythm.

Fast forward to training camp this season, and the Canes had signed Boucher as Ward’s back-up, in hopes of easing their All-Star goalie’s workload. Though Peters came into camp with the attitude of making the team, the writing was on the wall.

“They just said that, ‘You’re going to Charlotte, and they expect you to be a dominant goalie, and you’re going to get a chance sometime,’” he said, in reference to what the coaches told him at the end of camp. “I didn’t know when it was going to be or where it was going to be, but I’m excited to be here now.”

A dominant goalie is just what Peters has been in Charlotte. In the month of November, he won AHL Goaltender of the Month, as he posted a 5-1-1 record with a 1.63 goals-against average and .949 save percentage. Though his overall numbers are slightly higher (2.49 goals-against average, .920 save percentage, 7-6-1 record) due to a tough first two games that saw nine goals slip by him, he flourished off consistent playing time in November.

“It’s been great to get some action and consistency in the net,” he said. “There’s no better way to be a better goalie than to actually play. For me to get that consistent playing time, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable.”

Though Peters won’t see the same rhythm with the Canes, Muller is comfortable with throwing Peters into the mix. With Boucher expected to be out long-term and a back-to-back set on the schedule in just over a week, Peters is certain to see a start in the near future.

“His confidence level should be strong. He’s had the performance, he’s had the experience of being here before,” he said. “Wardo’s my guy, but we need to give him a break some nights.”

Peters last start for the Hurricanes came on March 4, a 5-2 loss in which Peters made 24 saves on 29 shots. That was one of only three starts he had in 2011; the other two, which came on January 7 and 9, he won.

Since he was in the net so sparingly last season, he struggled when he did see playing time. But that hasn’t diminished his determination to re-claim a spot on the roster in Raleigh – he goes back to New York, where the memory of his first NHL game and win keep him motivated.

“I feel I am an NHL goalie,” he said. “It’s definitely a memory you’ll never forget – that first game. This is what I work towards, and I’ve been working all season for this opportunity, and I’m going to try to make the most of it.”

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