December 1, 2009

Conn. native gets his NHL shot

by Dan Hickling

Colin McDonald (photo: Dan Hickling)

It's the joy of any AHL coach to deliver these words to one of his players: “You've got a plane to catch. You're going to the NHL.” That's especially true for the player who has never been to The Show before.

Springfield coach Rob Daum has taken pleasure in giving those orders to four of this year's Falcons, including Colin McDonald (Hartford, Conn.), who made his big-league debut with Edmonton on Friday.

Making matters even sweeter for the former Providence College star, he scored his first NHL goal in his second game.

“It's pretty satisfying,” Daum said. “Especially for guys going up for the first time. This is a lifetime dream to be fulfilled. And to be able to give them that information is satisfying.”

He gave the word to McDonald just as he was preparing to host several of his Falcon mates for Thanksgiving dinner at his home in Connecticut.

“I said, 'I just want to thank you for being courteous and inviting all the players over to your place,” said Daum, “especially since you're not going to be there. You've got a flight to Edmonton at 2:30. Good luck.”

For McDonald, a second-round choice of the Oilers in 2003, making it to the NHL is bound to be particularly sweet, as he follows in the skate lines of his father, Gerry, who played eight games for the Hartford Whalers.

Plus, Colin already tallied one more big league goal than Gerry did.

For the record, the other three NHL newbies sent up by Daum this year were defenseman Dean Arsene, goalie Devan Dubnyk and forward Ryan O'Marra.

“It's hard to express the feeling that you have (when you tell them),” said Daum. “Arsene, for example, had been playing (in the minors) for nine years. It's exciting for everybody to be involved in that process.

“It's very gratifying, and that's an understatement.”

While on the subject of call-ups, the Monarchs received a double whammy when flashing rookie Andrei Loktionov was summoned by the parent Los Angeles Kings.

The 19-year-old Russian had been among Manchester's leading scorers when he was brought up this week, which in itself put the Monarchs in a bind. Making matters worse, Loktionov suffered a separated shoulder on Wednesday while making his NHL debut.

Needless to say, he won't be heading back to Manchester anytime soon.

Around the AHL

You can call 'em the Worcester Streakin' Sharks, given that they are currently riding a five-game winning streak. The skein has come on the heels of a franchise worst seven-game losing streak. … One of those wins came over the Portland Pirates, who nonetheless have a nine-game points streak going, and who wrapped up the month of November with a 6-0-3 run. … The Monarchs finished the month atop the Atlantic Division, even though they have had difficulty keeping a consistent lineup. Besides the recent losses of Loktionov and Brandon Segal, the Cats have been without blue-chip blueliner Thomas Hickey, who suffered an undisclosed injury in a game at Providence on Nov. 22. … Online balloting for the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic begins Dec. 1 at noon, exclusively on the official Web site of the AHL, www.theahl.com. Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the most deserving AHL players by visiting theahl.com and completing the ballot. The players receiving the most votes by position will earn berths in the starting lineups of both the Canadian and PlanetUSA AHL All-Star teams. The Classic will be held Jan. 18-19 in Portland.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.