Goalie digs deep to stay motivated

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

For one evening, Adam Dennis could look to the other end of the ice and see a guy who knew exactly how he felt.

Dennis made his 42nd consecutive start in net for the Knights last night, a fact not lost on Sarnia Sting goalie Ryan Nie, another accomplished marathon puckstopper.

"I played 57 (out of 68 games) in Plymouth last year," the 20-year-old Nie said. "It does wear on you physically, especially the third game in three days. But you get used to it after a while and figure out what you have to do to deal with it.

"Of course you respect what he (Dennis) is doing. It's not easy."

Dennis, heading to the OHL all-star game in Belleville on Wednesday, was pulled Thursday night at the end of the second period in Windsor with the Knights trailing 5-2. The 20-year-old called last week's stretch of four games in five days one of the most difficult times in his OHL career.

"Just because of all the travel, having to go to the Sault and Erie on the same weekend, it was a unique situation," Dennis said. "When you play a lot of games, you have to look to different places to find your motivation.

"(London goalie coach) Dave Rook really helps me out with that. We talk all the time and in between periods, if he sees something that's going wrong, he will come down to the room and let me know about it."

Dennis isn't afraid to offer an opinion, and one of his recent suggestions led to some remodelling of the boards at the John Labatt Centre.

Dennis mentioned to Rook that NHL rinks have the lines for the goalie's restricted puck-playing area extended onto part of the boards. A few days later, the JLC added the feature.

"I don't know how much it helps, but every little edge you can get, you take," Dennis said. "I haven't seen it in other OHL rinks, but I saw it at a Buffalo game, so I figured it might make a difference."

Nie said the addition was new to him, too. "You're pretty much looking at the puck coming around the boards, but if you can see the line out of the corner of your eye, then it'd be a good thing."

Dennis, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, has been watching the Sabres' games closely and following the progress of their three goalies, Mika Noronen, Ryan Miller and Martin Biron.

"They're top-heavy in goal and each one of them could be a starter on another team," Dennis said. "Ryan Miller is a great guy and I played on Mika Noronen's team in training camp. It was a great experience."

Though Dennis envies the three, he also knows they would love to be in his position right now: playing every game for his team.


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