Alex Petizian’s story is not unusual for a rookie minor-league goalie, except that he’s had to wait an unusually long time to start his pro career on solid footing.
Recall that the Reign signed goalies Mike Zacharias and Garrett Zemlak in the preseason; both wound up being traded to clear room for Martin Jones (who was on an NHL contract) and Kellen Briggs (previously an established starter in the league). All of this transpired before the regular season began, and Zacharias and Zemlak are seeing a lot of playing time for Idaho and Stockton, respectively.
Similarly, Petizian signed with the Alaska Aces over the summer but still hasn’t appeared in an ECHL game this season. Veteran Gerald Coleman was assigned to the Aces late in the preseason by the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen; Adam Courchaine was later assigned to Alaska by the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Petizian had been buried on the depth chart ever since.
In fact, his only experience this season came in the AHL for Portland – Maine, not Oregon – in November. It was comically unplanned.
“It was fun,” Petizian said. “I flew through the night, it was about a 12-hour flight from Alaska. I got there in time for the morning skate, then was told before the game I was starting. It happened quick. I didn’t have time to think about it. It was a good experience but it was a while ago.”
Petizian stopped 37 of 42 shots in a 5-4 loss to the Charlotte Checkers. Three days later, on Nov. 6, he played in his second (and most recent) game of the season.
“It was a relief appearance,” he said. “I made four saves. The first guy let in three goals on five shots, they put me in for four saves, took me out and put the other guy back in.”
Petizian has exactly 61:32 of actual game experience to show for the first three months of the season. (Incidentally, tonight’s starter, Beau Erickson, has played all of 215:52 – the equivalent of roughly three and a half games.)
Suffice it to say, Petizian is pleased to be the number two in Ontario.
“I wanted something stable, something where I was going to compete for a number one job,” he said. “Unfortunately for this team, Kellen Briggs left. It gives me an opportunity to come here and compete for the number 1 job.”
Wednesday was too early for Karl Taylor to say how Erickson and Petizian will split the playing time going forward. Taylor said that Petizian came with a positive recommendation from Mark Morris, the Manchester Monarchs’ head coach who coached the goaltender for a year in prep school.
“Hopefully he’s a hidden gem who hasn’t played yet,” Taylor said.