Sens prospect stands tall for Soo

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Top Senators prospect Robin Lehner already has a nickname with his new OHL team.

“Real Estate,” Soo Greyhounds coach Denny Lambert said with a chuckle. “(Because) he’s as big as a house.”

Okay, what do you want? Jonas Gustavsson, the “other” Swedish goalie, already had dibs on “Monster.”

Lehner, a 6-foot-4, 224-pounder, did get in the way of the 67’s winning their first game at Ottawa’s newly named Urbandale Construction Centre Sunday afternoon, stopping 31 shots in the Greyhounds’ 3-2 victory.

The 67’s are now 1-2-1, while the Soo is 5-0.

“We won, and that’s the only thing that matters right now,” said Lehner, the Senators’ second-round pick in last June’s draft. “We’re playing with a lot of heart. Everybody’s sacrificing themselves for the team right now. I’m just happy to play here.”

Among the 6,522 at Sunday’s game were Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion and goalie coach Eli Wilson.

“They just told me to keep it going,” said Lehner, who is now 2-0 with the Soo. “They believe a lot in me. I feel comfortable every time I come to Ottawa right now. I love the city, I love the staff of the Senators.”

Lehner has fit in well since being sent to the ’Hounds, Lambert says. Spending three weeks in the Northern Ontario town at a pro conditioning camp in early August helped.

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Lambert, a former Senators winger himself. “I think he’s adapted well. Speaking English the way he does helps, and he just fits right in. I think this is where he should be, spending time with 18-year-olds, and going through this process ... there’s no question in my mind, this is a great stepping stone for him. He’s going to be a helluva NHL goaltender one day, but it’s exciting for us to get to work with such a talent.

“He’s a team-first guy. He fits right in. He’s actually helped us with his professional attitude, where he comes to the rink and he works in the weight room, he works off the ice, he works everywhere.”

The 67’s looked like they were going to make Lehner’s first game back in the nation’s capital a long and miserable one. Ryan Martindale scored just 44 seconds into the game, converting a setup by Cody Lindsay.

But James Livingston deflected a shot past Ottawa goalie Petr Mrazek with the visitors enjoying a two-man advantage five minutes later, and the Soo scored twice in the second period while outshooting the home team 10-4.

Nesbitt and Lindsay set up Matias Sointu for his first goal as a 67 with just over four minutes left, but Lehner squashed the rally when he stopped Marc-Anthony Zanetti right before the buzzer.


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