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Storm goalie has NHL memories

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Fankhouser

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He remembers beating the Buffalo Sabres. After that, Scott Fankhouser isn't quite sure.

The newest member of the Toledo Storm - and the ECHL club's projected starter in goal for the 2004-05 season - thinks another victory came against Tampa Bay. There may have been one against Washington. The Florida Panthers are a possibility too.

"The game I remember best was in Detroit," said Atlanta Thrashers' general manager Don Waddell. "We ended up losing [3-2] in overtime, but it was unbelievable how good he was" in stopping 37 shots.

That was Fankhouser's first NHL start. It came in the 1999-2000 season and was one of 16 appearances he made that year for the expansion Thrashers.

Now three years removed from his last decision in the NHL, the 29-year-old has been signed by the Storm to replace Doug Teskey, who left the organization this summer to play in Europe.

Fankhouser got his first look at the small Sports Arena ice surface yesterday as Toledo prepares to open training camp on Saturday afternoon.

"I hope to have a big role this year," Fankhouser said. "I'm a little bit older and I've seen a lot of hockey."

Fankhouser's pro career began in the ECHL with Greenville in '99-'00, after four years at UMass-Lowell. He went 6-1 with the Grrrowl, which started a whirlwind ride that included minor pro stops in Louisville and Orlando and a 2-11-2 record with a 3.20 goals-against average for Atlanta.

"We signed him to have some depth in goal," said Waddell, a former Toledo Goaldigger defenseman.

"I think he was our fifth goalie signed. Before we knew it he came right to the NHL."

Storm coach Nick Vitucci remembers Fankhouser's meteoric rise quite well.

Vitucci was his assistant coach in Greenville; when Fankhouser went up to Orlando, goaltender Vitucci came out of retirement.

"I was activated and he never came back," Vitucci said.

In the 2000-01 season Fankhouser made seven appearances for the Thrashers, going 2-1 with a 3.69 GAA.

He spent the bulk of that year with Orlando in the International League and won the Turner Cup.

Since then Fankhouser has been in the American Hockey League with Chicago and Hershey and in the ECHL with Reading, Greenville and Arkansas.

In his final ECHL stop before heading to Germany last season, the 6-2, 206-pounder went 11-5-2 with a 2.65 GAA in Little Rock.

"I was sitting around at home this summer, reading about the [NHL lockout] and wondering what was going to happen," said Fankhouser, who lives in Jasper, Ga., about an hour and a half north of Atlanta. "I saw on-line that Nick was the coach here. I gave him a call to see how things were going. I figured he had Teskey, but he didn't have anybody."

Fankhouser will be joined in the Toledo nets by a Detroit Red Wing contract player, likely rookie Logan Koopmans out of the Western (junior) League.

"I know from my own experience that you look at a guy differently if they've played in the NHL," Fankhouser said.

"Even if they've played in the AHL, they've been somewhere you want to be. I've met a lot of guys that are very unfriendly, but I'm just a normal guy who loves to play hockey very much and who wants to help show the way."

That chance will come quickly. Exhibition play begins next week.

"He's a real likeable guy," Waddell said. "He competes; he's just got to show the consistency. To be a No. 1 goalie, I don't care what level you're at, you've got to be consistent every night. He should be good for those guys."

Contact Dan Saevig at:

dsaevig@theblade.com.

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