Natural-born filler

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:36 AM ET

When Daren Machesney was six, his older brother's team needed a goalie and he was pressed into duty.

Nearly 17 years later, after starter Cory Schneider was summoned by the Vancouver Canucks to replace the injured Roberto Luongo, Machesney finds himself in a similar position with the Manitoba Moose.

This time around, Machesney seems a little more prepared for the situation at hand.

"It's a good opportunity to come in here and get some games and try to find a rhythm," said Machesney, who made 21 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last night at the MTS Centre.

Free agent

After serving as the backup goalie to Calder Cup MVP Michal Neuvirth of the Hershey Bears last spring, Machesney signed with the Moose as a free agent last summer.

"It was a no-brainer," said Machesney, who turns 23 on Dec. 13. "This is a classy organization and I was coming from a classy organization. It was like going from 1B to 1A. When the opportunity came knocking, I didn't take long to answer."

Machesney's father Scott was a goaltender who played Canadian college for the University of Guelph Gryphons, so strapping on the pads came naturally for Daren.

Encouraged

"He didn't force me, but he encouraged it," said Daren, a Hamilton product whose favourite NHL goalies as a youngster were Felix Potvin and Curtis Joseph. "My brother's team needed a goalie and I pretty much stuck with it after that. It's something I like to do."

During Machesney's first training camp with the Canucks, he kept a close eye on how Luongo carries himself."You try to bring your notebook to the rink every day and take little things from him," said Machesney. "He's a consummate professional and he works really hard. He's a great guy too."

Although Schneider isn't expected to be up with the Canucks long-term, the Moose are in a busy stretch of four games over six days, so Machesney should see plenty of action.

That being said, Moose head coach Scott Arniel doesn't want Machesney putting any additional pressure on himself as he steps into the No. 1 role.

Big reason

"We're not throwing everything on his shoulders," said Arniel. "He's got to make sure he looks back at the opportunities he's had in Hershey, he's been in this position before. This is the big reason why we brought him in here.

"We weren't sure how the goaltending thing would play out in Vancouver and we knew that somewhere, somehow we were going to have to rely on Daren, just like we had to rely on Karl (Goehring) last year."

Machesney, who was a fifth round choice (143rd overall) of the Washington Capitals in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, appeared in 74 games over the past two seasons with the Bears, so becoming a temporary starter is nothing new for him.

"He's a really good goalie," said Moose forward Tommy Maxwell, who knows Machesney from his days with the Bears. "Being behind a good goalie like Cory Schneider, he's not going to get as much praise or accolades as he deserves. He's a stand-up guy and he does his job. He doesn't talk very much, but he goes out there and stops the puck."

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca


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