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Published: Sunday, 1/9/2005

Fankhouser is zeroing in: Storm goalie shuts out Dayton

BY DAN SAEVIG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
The Storm's Dan Eberly is hooked by Steve Dix of the Dayton Bombers last night at the Sports Arena. The Storm's Dan Eberly is hooked by Steve Dix of the Dayton Bombers last night at the Sports Arena.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

He's played 23 games in the "show " and in the last few weeks Storm goaltender Scott Fankhouser has begun showing why he spent parts of two seasons in the National Hockey League with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Last night at the Sports Arena, Fankhouser recorded his second shutout of the season as Toledo improved to 16-12-3 overall with a 2-0 decision over the Dayton Bombers.

Fankhouser made 25 saves in boosting his record to 11-5-2. After an average start, the goalie has appeared in eight of Toledo's last nine games and has not allowed more than two goals in any of the contests.

"As the season goes on everyone gets more comfortable," said Fankhouser, who spent portions of the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 campaigns with Atlanta.

"I'm feeling comfortable now. [Detroit Red Wings' goalie coach] Jim Bedard has been down here helping me get square [to the puck on shots]."

After playing just twice for Toledo between Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, Fankhouser beat Reading in a shootout 3-2 on Dec. 19.

Beginning with that game, the goalie has gone 6-1-0 with a goals-against average of 1.53.

Behind Fankhouser, Toledo has won three in a row.

"I remember my first year here, the first half I was lost," said Storm coach Nick Vitucci, an ex-Toledo goalie. "Every time I felt I was in the crease, I didn't feel like I was on proper angles. I think he went through that as well.

"Once you get used to it [the 180' x 80' Sports Arena ice] it's actually an easier rink to play in than a big one [200' x 85'] sometimes."

Fankhouser got all the support he needed when Scooter Smith - who scored a power-play goal and the only marker in the overtime shootout in his Storm debut Friday in Dayton - scored a shorthanded goal at 5:53 of the first period.

"He's playing amazing," Smith said of Fankhouser. "It always helps when you've got confidence in the goalie back there."

Tested in the second when Dayton had 10 shots, Fankhouser was at his best. Scott Cameron had a clean breakaway but Fankhouser got in front of that shot and then swatted aside a rebound by a trailing Janne Jokila.

"I'd love to have a 5-0 game or get a 3-4 goal lead," said Fankhouser who made 12 stops in the third. "But if that's the way we've got to win them, that's how we've got to win them. I won't have a lot of hair - not that I've got a lot now - but I won't have a lot by the end of the season if we keep doing it this way."

NOTE: Toledo netminder Logan Koopmans was recalled to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League yesterday. According to Storm general manager Mike Miller, he's temporarily replacing Toledo alumnus Joey MacDonald, who's out with a sore groin.

Contact Dan Saevig at: dsaevig@theblade.com.



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