The ups and downs of a pro goalie

Brendan McCarthy
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The first entry in a what will be a weekly series profiling IceCaps players

St. John’s IceCaps’ netminder Aebischer is back to stopping pucks in North America after four years with Lugano in his native Switzerland. — Hamilton Bulldogs photo

David Aebischer has reached the highest heights in hockey as a member of the 2001 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, but in the off-season, it appears the St. John’s IceCaps goaltender sometimes enjoys going to great depths.

At the start of the 2011-12 American Hockey League season, each member of the IceCaps was asked to fill out a questionnaire, the idea that the answers would be used in player biographies on the team’s website and in its publications. Among the offerings from Aebischer was one about his favourite off-season pursuits, which certainly vary in their altitudinal locations — especially considering he is from Switzerland —  as they include hiking, mountain biking and scuba diving.

Beginning this week, and using those questionnaires as part of our source material, The Telegram will be introducing you to individual IceCap players, beginning with Aebischer, who at 33, is the roster’s senior member, in terms of age and owns the lowest jersey number, 1.

Without even seeing them, we can confidently predict some of the answers won’t vary much from week to week. Get ready for a lot of pasta and/or chicken when it comes to favourite pre-game meals.

We can also inform you nicknames for hockey players these days are largely and sadly unremarkable. For every Garth “Muzz” Murray, there are 10 players whose hockey monikers are derived using a basic formula, whereby you shorten the name (drop a syllable or two) and add a ‘y’ and ‘er’ or an ‘s’ and in some case nothing at all. The other option is to keep the full name and add one of the aforementioned suffixes. So a player with the surname White becomes ‘Whitey,’ one named Montgomery is ‘Monty’, a Cooper is ‘Coops’ , Burton is ‘Burt’ and so on. Therefore, we are not surprised to learn Aebischer is known as ‘Abby’ in the IceCaps’ dressing room.

But there will be answers that are somewhat provocative. While the softspoken Aebischer may list vanilla as his favourite flavour, doesn’t profess to any superstitions and isn’t a practitioner of karaoke, we also learn that he still possesses his first skates, which are now a quarter-century old (how do they smell?)

Most interestingly, he says that as a youngster his favourite player was Patrick Roy (“Best goalie ever!” exclaims Aebischer in the questionnaire). Now, it’s not surprising that a young hockey netminder growing up in the in the late 1980s and early 1990s had Roy as a hero, but how many could get to say they eventually got to play on the same NHL team with their hero, and on a Stanley Cup-winning team, no less? Aebischer can as he was the backup to Roy on the 2000-01 Avs.

bmcc@thetelegram.com

The ‘ABBY’  FILE

Born: Feb. 7, 1978 in Fribourg, Switzerland

Drafted: 161st overall by Colorado in 1997 NHL Entry Draft

Note: Aebischer has represented Switzerland internationally on several occasions, including twice at the world junior championships. At the 1998 world juniors, Aebischer backstopped the Swiss to a bronze medal, their best-ever finish in the competition. He was named the tournament’s all-star goalie. Aebischer has also appeared in five world championships and two Olympics (2002 and 2006) for the Swiss.

More of Aebischer’s answers from the IceCaps’ biographical info:

Favourite pre-game meal: Salmon, pasta, veggies

Must-see TV shows: The Good Wife, Dexter

Favourite person followed on Twitter: None

If you weren’t a hockey player, what would you be: Tennis player

Favourite part of being a hockey player: Hanging out with my teammates. The sport in itself.

What people don’t know about the life of a pro: It’s hard work

Song or band played the most on your iPod: Ben Harper, Pearl Jam

First real job: Construction work

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, The Telegram NHL

Geographic location: Switzerland, Fribourg, Pearl JamFirst

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