Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | October 14, 2011

Man of the Day 10/14: Al Montoya

Álvaro “Al” Montoya

Born February 13, 1985 (age 26) in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Goaltender for the New York Islanders

Montoya was just part of the Islanders’ excellent 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay! Born and raised in Chicago, Montoya is the first Cuban-American player to play in the NHL. He grew up playing for the Chicago Young Americans and Loyola Academy, along with the funnily-named Texas Tornado of the NAHL. In 2000 he spent a season with the National Team Development Program. Then he attended the University of Michigan, playing for the Wolverines there–in his final season he had a 30-7-3 record. Drafted sixth overall in 2004 by the Rangers (I’m sure the Islanders don’t hold that against him), he got on a three-year entry-level contract in 2005 and went to Hartford’s AHL team.

He spent a lot of time in the Wolf Pack, picking up a 66-34-4 record. However, just as he was getting in the Rangers organization, another Man of the Day honoree was too, some guy named Henrik Lundqvist. He was traded to Phoenix in 2008. At first, Montoya went to their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, and his Phoenix debut was a 3-0 shutout against the Avalanche. Not bad at all! However, he spent 2009-10 and part of 2010-11 exclusively with the Rampage. In February, he was traded to the Islanders for a 2011 sixth-round draft pick. At the time, the Isles’ two goalies, Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin, were both hurt so Montoya got some time to shine. He played 21 games, posting a 9-5-5 with one shutout, causing the Islanders to sign him to a one-year contract extension.

He looks pretty happy here, huh?

Last season with San Antonio he played 21 games, getting an 11-8-0, a 3.19 and an .891%, but upon his trade he improved to 21 games, 9-5-5, a 2.39 and a .921%. He’s also suited up for America before: twice at the World Juniors (2004 gold, 2005 fourth place) and twice at Worlds (2009 fourth place, 2011 eighth place). Actually, the 2011 Worlds was the first time I really saw him work between the pipes. I liked his mask–he always tries to work a cigar-chomping crescent moon and the phrase “Big Cubano” in somehow–and though America did lose, it was fun to see him.

Especially when I saw him looking like this. Whoa.

 -Emma


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