CHARLOTTE, NC—Former Charlotte Checkers goaltender Matt Zaba made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers last night when he entered the game in relief of Henrik Lunqvist. He played 34 minutes, stopping 14 of 16 shots in a 6-0 loss to Montreal.
Zaba appeared in three games with the Checkers this season, posting a 2-1-0 record with a 3.58 goals against average and .884 save percentage. He also played nine games in Charlotte in 2007-08 and becomes the 34th former Checker to play in the NHL.
The 26-year-old netminder spent all of last season in the AHL with Hartford. In 41 games, he posted a 25-10-0 record with a 2.33 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, all team-highs. His GAA and save percentage ranked him seventh and eighth in the AHL, respectively. He won 16 of his last 19 games of the season, including a career-high seven-game win streak, and was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for February. Zaba also led the league in shootout save percentage with a 93.0% success rate.
Prior to turning pro, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Yorkton, Saskatchewan skated for four years at Colorado College where he earned WCHA All-Rookie honors and was a three-time WCHA All-Academic. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the eighth round of the 2003 draft and was signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers in the summer of 2007.
The Checkers (22-13-5) will embark on a four-game northern road swing before returning on Thursday, Feb. 4 to host the Florida Everblades Ticket information can be obtained by calling 704-342-4-ICE or visiting www.gocheckers.com.
Notes: Charlotte is 13-3-1 in its last 17 home games…Andrew Carroll has seven goals and six assists in his last nine games…Michel Leveille (2g, 7a) and Daniel Tkaczuk (2g, 7a) are each on five-game point streaks …Tyler Doig ranks fifth in ECHL scoring with 48 points (11g, 37a) while Leveille ranks tied for ninth with 42 points (14g, 28a)…Julien Brouillette has eight points (4g, 4a) in his last seven games and ranks third among all ECHL defensemen with 26 points (10g, 16a)…T.J. Reynolds leads all ECHL defensemen with 168 penalty minutes, and is second in overall plus-minus with a +19 rating…Derek Couture, Kenny Roche, Tyler Doig and Kevin Schaeffer are with Hartford (AHL) while Matt Ford and Randy Rowe are with Lake Erie (AHL)…Trevor Glass, Chris Snavely and Chris Chappell are on the 21-day injured reserve.