John Muse didn’t have much time to get comfortable in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before it was time to move on again. Such is the life in minor league hockey, and players don’t mind the moves as much when they’re moving up a level.
Muse played just one game for the Fort Wayne Komets before his team from the previous season, the Charlotte Checkers, came calling. Muse signed a professional tryout contract with the Checkers on October 23 and has been his team’s most reliable keeper since joining the team once again. This is the third year in a row that Muse has played for the Checkers.
In 2011-12, Muse posted a 10-3-2 record for Charlotte with a 2.42 goals against average and .943 save percentage. He appeared in 16 games last year in Charlotte, going 7-7-1 between the pipes with a .891 save percentage and 3.22 GAA.
Just two days after receiving his brand-new orange goalie pads for his stay in Indiana, Muse had to dust off the old ones and was right back at it in North Carolina. Southern living seems to be to his liking, as he not only jumped right back into the fray, but had one of the best weeks of his professional hockey career.
The two-time national champion at Boston College was named the CCM AHL Player of the Week for the week ending October 27 as he went back to the American Hockey League, pro hockey’s version of Triple-A, and set a franchise record by playing 154 minutes and three seconds of shutout hockey, picking up a pair of shutouts along the way. He whitewashed Grand Rapids and Chicago over back-to-back games, making 57 saves in total for the two games.
Muse has been good ever since joining the team; unfortunately his team hasn’t been performing very well. Muse has now appeared in nine games with the Checkers and has a 3-5 record overall between the pipes, with a goals against average of 2.44 and a save percentage of .918.
The Falmouth native could see his playing time take a dip, though. Mike Murphy, who was last year’s No. 1 keeper in Charlotte, was just sent back down to the minors after a stint as the backup with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. Murphy owns the Charlotte franchise record for career appearances (77) and wins (39).
Charlotte has one other goalie on the roster as well: former NHL and Boston University standout Rick DiPietro. The Winthrop native has spent 11 years in the NHL, all with the New York Islanders and was the first overall selection in the 2000 NHL draft. The 2008 NHL all-star most notably signed a 15-year contract with the team back in 2006, but was bought out by the team after a number of injuries.
At practice yesterday, all three goalies were present. The AHL does not have a roster limit on how many players can be with the team, nor does it have a limit on goaltenders, though most teams carry just two. Only two are allowed to dress for games, though.
The team’s head coach, Jeff Daniels, said that all three of his keepers are being considered as the team’s go-to guy going forward.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” Daniels said. “There’s no timeline or decision to be made right away. At some point one of these guys is going to step up and grab that No. 1 role, and we’ll let that play out.”
Throughout the season so far, the goalies have had plenty of pressure put on them. Charlotte has been in a serious rut in terms of scoring goals, Charlotte has lost every game it has played since the calendar reached November, dropping seven consecutive games, culminating with a 3-2 loss on Tuesday in Toronto to the Marlies. Muse saved 24 of 27 shots on goal that night, but the team dropped a 3-2 decision. The team has not scored more than three goals in any game during the tough stretch and has had just one on four occasions.