Ducks prospect Timo Pielmeier was not the MVP of the ECHL All-Star Game on Wednesday.
But he could have been.
Playing the second period of the game for the National Conference, Pielmeier made 12 saves on 14 shots, and none were more spectacular than his heist of a shot by the Florida Everblades’ Justin Donati at the 16:19 mark.
One of many breakaways in the game left Pielmeier out of position toward the right side of the net, when Donati caught the puck on the left doorstep and shot. Pielmeier’s only recourse was to dive headlong to his right, extend his glove to his backhand side, and hope to snag the airborne shot before it crossed the goal line. Somehow, that’s exactly what happened. Donati was left staring in amazement, mouth agape, and all he could do was give Pielmeier a congratulatory tap with his stick.
Pielmeier made another point-blank glove save earlier in the period, and his save percentage (.857) was the best of the six all-star goalies.
“Evan Barlow (who was named MVP) was great, but the player of the game in my book was Timo Pielmeier,” Bakersfield head coach Marty Raymond said. “He came out and made a big impact on the game. He made some, not only great saves, some unbelievable saves. That’s what these games are for – some great action – and I liked his poise.”
Pielmeier, who was acquired at last season’s trade deadline from San Jose in the deal that sent Kent Huskins and Travis Moen to the Sharks, ranks 10th in the league with a 2.86 goals-against average and is tied for second with 16 wins.
Raymond said that the 20-year-old goalie has gained confidence over the course of his rookie season and has is noticeably getting better.
“He knows he’s going to play at a higher level but he accepts the fact that he’s playing in the (ECHL) and he does a great job at it,” Raymond said of Pielmeier. “He’s very well-liked by his peers and his teammates.”
Aside from his goaltending skills, Pielmeier’s ever-present smile endears him to the rest of the Condors. And indeed, he’s not bothered by the Ducks’ goaltending picture. Jonas Hiller and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are the undisputed Nos. 1 and 2, and Justin Pogge, who is currently stationed in San Antonio with the AHL’s Rampage, is third on the depth chart.
“It’s not even that big of a deal for me. I’m playing in the (ECHL) almost every game, which is good,” Pielmeier said. “If guys get called up, they go straight to Anaheim, which is pretty good for those guys.”
As for for his virtuoso all-star performance, “those were the saves I was thinking about before the game, that I wanted to make,” he said. “Finally it worked out for the fans. Showed them a real all-star game. I’m happy it worked out.”