Clermont ready to step between pipes
After the New Jersey Devils recalled goalie Keith Kinkaid from Albany on Tuesday, no move was made immediately to get a second goalie for the AHL club.
Jeff Frazee was the lone netminder in practice until Maxime Clermont was reassigned from the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, for whom he stopped 40 shots in a 5-1 win Wednesday while still unaware of the Devils’ intentions.
“I saw [Martin] Brodeur was hurt, and I didn’t get a phone call,” Clermont said after Thursday’s practice with Albany at Troy’s Knickerbacker Arena. “I played last night and found out after the game. So, it was definitely good news.”
Clermont has a 15-10-3 record for Elmira this season with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. Last year with Kalamazoo, he was 13-11-2 with a 3.42 GAA and .891 save percentage.
He played two games for Albany last season, going 1-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .925 save percentage. With a three-in-three weekend starting Friday, he’s likely to play but wasn’t taking that for granted.
“I haven’t heard anything yet, but if they give me the nod, then I’ll be ready, for sure,” Clermont said. “I’ve been working out down there and that’s what I’m working for, to be here. I’m looking forward to getting a chance and showing everyone what I can do.”
“He’ll most likely get a game,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “He looks pretty sharp. I haven’t seen him since camp. He came came in last year and won a big game for us in Providence. He’s been playing well down there in Elmira, and he looked sharp today. So, we’ll get him ready for the weekend.”
Getting him ready for the weekend probably just means helping him adjust to the difference in the game that comes with the step up in leagues.
“There’s no doubt there is a difference,” he said. “The style of play is kind of different. It’s more north-south and the execution is way better here, for sure. I’m looking forward to getting chance to show what I can be at this level and see what I can do.”
Kowalsky said while Clermont and other players are in the ECHL, their performances are not lost on the Devils’ management.
“Chris [Lamoriello, GM] obviously sees him play. We send Dave [Caruso, goaltending coach] down to work with the goalies,” Kowalsky said. “I think the organization does a good job of that. We are always looking to see how our guys did. When they go down there, they aren’t forgotten by any means.”
Defenseman Jay Leach (lower body) returned to practice this week, working through a full practice Thursday, but he will not play this weekend.
“Not ready for the weekend, but it’s good to see him back on the ice, and today was his first full practice, which we weren’t even sure if he was going to be able to participate in a full practice yet,” Kowalsky said. “We’ll see how he responds after today and then moving forward, hopefully, he’ll be ready for next weekend.”
The only player on the roster who did not practice was Mattias Tedenby, who is recovering from a skate-cut to the face.