Speedy left winger and Colorado Avalanche prospect Jordan Krestanovich had a disappointing season. The 22-year-old, taken by Colorado in the 5th round, 152nd overall in the 1999 Entry Draft was traded to Minnesota for 25-year-old winger Chris Bala, a former teammate of Steve Moore in his collegiate days at Harvard University. He played four seasons with the Ivy League school recording 45 goals, 54 assists in 123 games over his four year tenure. His National Hockey League career includes a six game call-up to the Ottawa Senators recording one assist during his first season in the American Hockey League. With family ties in Pennsylvania, Bala was quickly welcomed joining the Hershey Bears with 18 points in 61 games in the American Hockey League.
On March 13th, 24-year-old goaltender Phil Sauve made his season debut in chocolate and white against the Norfolk Admirals. With the addition of ex-Oiler goaltender Tommy Salo to the Avalance, the demotion gives Sauve as an opportunity to get back in playing form. Sauve achieved a goals against average of 3.04 and a save percentage of .896 with the Colorado Avalanche. In Hershey, he debuted against Chicago Blackhawk goalie prospect Craig Andersson who has now decided to spell his last name “Anderson” possibly because he was tired of frequent spelling errors. Like Sauve, he was recently demoted to the American Hockey League as the Chicago Blackhawks juggle their goalie situation with their multiple prospects: Michael Leighton, Adam Munro and Matt Underhill. Also like Sauve, he wore number 31, but Sauve proved that despite being inactive in the NHL, he still can catch the puck, as he posted a shutout.
Sauve’s demotion let to a controversial move involving 24-year-old undrafted goaltender Tom Lawson who quietly and dutifully packed his bags to the ECHL despite backstopping every single win for the Hershey Bears since January 30th. Goalie scouts from the NHL including the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets who frequent games in scouting missions had only but praise for the 6’5” goaltender. But as Paul Fixter exclaimed, “It came down to what we felt…was best for the players involved and the organization.”
Tom Lawson will get more ice time playing for the Reading Royals while 21-year-old Slovakian netminder Peter Budaj faces the Hershey Bears fan outcries as he remains back-up goalie to Phil Sauve for the rest of season. Budaj has not won a game since January 28th and has lost his last six starts achieving only a 4.16 goals against average. The crowds are holding him responsible for the recent losses since they have made the playoffs every year since 1992-93.