January 26, 2012 11:22 AM
With goaltender Mike Murphy due to miss at least the next two games with an injury, the Checkers have signed Pier-Olivier Pelletier to a professional tryout contract.
Pelletier, a native of the actual town of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec, comes to Charlotte from the Central Hockey League’s Evansville Icemen, where he has recorded a 2.64 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 16 games. The second-round draft choice, 59th overall, by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005 played his one and only career AHL game with the Connecticut Whale last season, allowing four goals on 22 shots.
Pelletier, 24, returned from a month-long injury spell to make 46 saves in Evansville's 3-2 shootout loss to Missouri on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday’s morning skate, Pelletier, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 194 pounds, had not yet arrived in Charlotte but was expected to do so in the afternoon. He’ll provide backup for John Muse, who is expected to start each of the Checkers’ next two games.
With Muse already the Checkers’ third-string goaltender after Murphy and Justin Peters, who has been with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes since early December, the Checkers were left with no one under contract and Daniels more or less starting from scratch to find a suitable replacement.
“Just making calls and talking to agents,” said Daniels of how he came across Pelletier and fellow tryout Sean Dolan. “A lot of ECHL guys are under NHL contracts, and for a lot of teams, giving up a goalie at this time of year is tough to do.”
Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said that he did not know the extent of the injury to Murphy, which the team’s starting goaltender suffered during the warm-up period of Tuesday’s game in Norfolk, but added that he may be ready to return after the All-Star break when the team visits Oklahoma City next Friday.
Pressed into a start on short notice, Muse may have had his most impressive game as a Checker in the win over Norfolk, holding the AHL’s No. 2 offense to two goals, one of which came with 10 seconds left in a game that was already out of reach. Those were two of just three he’s allowed with the Checkers this season, pushing his season totals to 4-0-0 with a 0.87 goals-against average, .976 save percentage and one shutout.
“He’s been sharp,” said Daniels of Muse. “He’s very prepared and very businesslike. Even when he’s not expecting to play, he just doesn’t get rattled out there. Give him a lot of credit, because that’s not easy to do when you haven’t been playing much.”
Thursday’s start will mark the first time that Muse, who dressed for 24 Checkers games this season dating back to Oct. 22 but played in just four, makes consecutive starts at the AHL level. The 23-year-old, who won two NCAA national championships with Boston College, started the season with ECHL Florida, going 7-3-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and one shutout.