The Texas Stars assigned two goaltenders to the Idaho Steelheads this week and both have something to prove.
Josh Robinson, a rookie out of Michigan Tech, needs to show he can play hockey at the ECHL level.
Tyler Beskorowany hopes to show the Dallas Stars that he still has a bright future.
One of the two will start Friday when the Steelheads open their season against the Utah Grizzlies. The game starts at 7:10 p.m. at CenturyLink Arena.
The 6-foot-5 Beskorowany was a fan favorite with the Steelheads in 2010-11. Then 20, he compiled a 10-5-4 record and was named ECHL goaltender of the month after going 4-0-1 in January of that season.
Beskorowany was promoted to Texas, Idahos AHL affiliate, but last season didnt go as expected.
Last year was one of those years where I looked in the mirror and said, What happened? Beskorowany said. It was my eye-opener.
The Canadian was 10-19-0 for a last-place team that finished 31-40-5.
We didnt do as well as we wanted to last year, on a team level and a personal level, said Beskorowany, who arrived in Boise on Tuesday and will practice with the Steelheads for the first time Wednesday. It was really rock bottom for me ... and to have another opportunity to start over is big for me.
He said hes up for the challenge.
I did pretty well here two years ago when I was here, and Im two years older and two years wiser, Beskorowany said.
Its a goal for me, to be the best goalie in the (ECHL), and then make the leap up to the AHL and keep going there and be the best goalie there. And then the ultimate goal is to make the NHL.
That journey begins again in Boise, just as it starts for Robinson, who has something in common with Beskorowany: He knows what its like to be on a struggling team.
In his first three years at Michigan Tech, Robinson was 6-33-4.
We finished in last place three years in a row, Robinson said.
A coaching change was made before Robinsons senior season.
I just got the opportunity and ran with it, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder said. I had six wins total my first three years, and last year I was 15-14-1.
Robinson signed as a free agent after the season, and attended Texas training camp before being sent to Idaho this week.
The first couple of days, it was fast, said Robinson, 22. Youre standing there going, Wow, theres really a lot of good players here. But you adapt.
After those first couple of days, Robinson said he realized he could compete with professional hockey players. That gives him some confidence as he begins his pro career.
Now its all about getting experience and getting used to the pro game, Robinson said.
First-year coach Brad Ralph agrees.
He just needs to play at this level and get some games under his belt, said Ralph, who will make his own Idaho debut Friday.
As for Beskorowany, the coach has no doubt that the young goalie will succeed again in Idaho.
Hes a big, agile goalie with all the tools, Ralph said. He can certainly play at the NHL level. He just needs to come down here and throw up some good numbers, and hell be back up there when the opportunity comes.
TWO PLAYERS RELEASED
The Steelheads released goalie Ryan Zapolski and forward Austin Mayer on Tuesday, leaving 21 skaters and two goalies in training camp.
Zapolski stopped 36-of-37 shots in Idahos preseason win over Utah on Saturday.
He won us the game, Ralph said. He was phenomenal.
And now Zapolski, who went 8-4-1 with three ECHL teams last season, is looking for a job.
He knew there was a possibility that we could have two goalies sent down, Ralph said.
It comes with the territory. But absolutely, when a guy makes 36 saves in a hockey game for you, the last thing you want to do is let him go. ... But he can play. Its just a matter of him finding the right spot and getting some games in. Who knows, that could be us later this year.
Mayer appeared in both preseason games against Utah over the weekend, picking up one assist.
Ralph must submit his opening-night roster to the ECHL on Wednesday. The team can carry a maximum of 20 active players with two reserve spots. The team can also place players on the 21-day injured reserve list without counting against the roster limits.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424