SUN Hockey Pool

Smaller equipment good fit for Fernandez

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

Manny Fernandez had little trouble adjusting to the new goaltending equipment mandated by the NHL.

In fact, Fernandez believes he may have already been playing in pads smaller than 12 inches prior to this season, which might account for his impressive play this year.

The Minnesota Wild goalie improved his record to 12-5-3, backstopping his team to a 4-1 win last night over the Oilers.

Fernandez turned aside 27 shots in the victory, which snapped the Oilers' five-game winning streak.

"I feel comfortable with the new equipment and that's key," said Fernandez. "We knew it was going to be a tough year for the goalies and I tried to get my stuff as quickly as I could, so I could get comfortable with the 11-inch goal pads.

"It wasn't as much of an adjustment for me, because in the past Bauer has made a few mistakes and they sent me a couple of goal pads which were a lot under 12 inches, so it's been a while since I've been wearing smaller pads."

Officially losing an inch off his goal pads has not fazed Fernandez.

Yesterday's victory was the fourth in the last five starts for the 31-year-old native of Etobicoke, Ont. The Wild goaltender has been splitting the work with Dwayne Roloson this season and is one of the keys behind Minnesota's top penalty-killing unit.

The Wild came into the game with the best penalty-killing unit in the league. The Wild killed off six of the Oilers seven power plays last night, conceding their lone goal on a two-man advantage in the first period.

"Manny has been like that every game," said Wild centre Brian Rolston, who scored a key short-handed goal in the third period.

"It's the same with Dwayne Roloson. We've had good goaltending all year. It's just a matter of us playing well in front of him."

The only Oiler able to beat Fernandez on the night was Fernando Pisani, who tipped in a Jarret Stoll shot towards the end of the first period.

From then on, Fernandez shut down the Oilers - a team that had scored 27 goals in its previous five games.

"We seem to rise up to the challenge when he have a little bit of adversity," said Fernandez.


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