Avalanche’s Smith look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween pipes

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Mike Ash­more

NE­WARK >> On Tues­day night at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter, the Colorado Avalanche were des­per­ate to find a glim­mer of hope dur­ing a sea­son in which it’s been rel­a­tively non-ex­is­tent.

Given that they didn’t walk away with two points fol­low­ing a 3-2 de­feat at the hands of the Devils, Jeremy Smith’s per­for­mance in his Na­tional Hockey League de­but would have to suf­fice.

Af­ter nearly eight full sea­sons in the mi­nors, the well-trav­eled 27-yearold goal­tender was fi­nally given his op­por­tu­nity in the NHL, and im­pressed de­spite pick­ing up the loss. Smith was named the game’s sec­ond star; he made 37 saves on 40 shots, and earned the praise of head coach Jared Bed­nar af­ter it was all said and done.

“I thought he was fan­tas­tic, he was our best player by a coun­try mile,” said Bed­nar via the Avalanche web­site.

Smith spent all but one game of his first pro sea­son in 2009-10 with the ECHL’s Cincin­nati Cy­clones be­fore mak­ing the jump full-time to the Amer­i­can Hockey League. But de­spite solid stays with the Mil­wau­kee Ad­mi­rals, Spring­field Fal­cons, Prov­i­dence Bru­ins and Iowa Wild, he never could get into an NHL game.

But af­ter a strong show­ing with the San An­to­nio Ram­page this year, com­bined with a in­jury to Colorado starter Se­myon Var­lamov and un­even de­but by AHL team­mate Spencer Martin, Smith was fi­nally given his chance.

“I felt com­fort­able out there, that’s the main thing,” Smith said. “I played well, but it would be nice to get the win… it’s been a long 27 years, but to­day isn’t the end, it’s just the be­gin­ning.” are dif­fer­ent on both ends of the spec­trum this time around; Julien had just been fired by the Bos­ton Bru­ins last week and had been ru­mored as a can­di­date in sev­eral other lo­ca­tions, while Ther­rien had his Cana­di­ens in first place in the Atlantic Divi­sion at the time of this move.

Cana­di­ens gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin ad­dressed the Mon­treal me­dia for the first time re­gard­ing the fas­ci­nat­ing move on Wed­nes­day.

“I asked per­mis­sion (from the Bru­ins) and was granted per­mis­sion (to speak with Julien),” Bergevin said. “From there, we went with the hir­ing…we just felt we weren’t play­ing the way we’re ca­pa­ble of. Ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. Maybe the tim­ing was Claude got let go by Bos­ton last week, but I didn’t make my de­ci­sion based on how Bos­ton op­er­ates, that’s just not why I did it.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Colorado Avalanche goalie Jeremy Smith drinks from a bot­tle be­tween plays against the Devils dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of a game on Tues­day night at the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Ne­wark.

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