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Visentin Stopping Pucks, Turning Heads

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 6:30 PM / Features
By Anthony Perez
GLENDALE -- Coyotes goaltending prospect Mark Visentin has been enjoying a fun and successful ride over the past eight months.

Photo by Getty Images.
It began when Visentin, who posted a record of 24-26-0-5 with a 2.99 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs, was selected by the Coyotes with the 27th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in June.

Since then, the 18-year-old has thrived in Niagara, improving all of his stats across the board from last season. In 36 appearances, he has posted a record of 23-7-2-4 with an OHL-leading 2.43 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He also has notched four shutouts.

His performance has turned heads. Earlier this month Visentin was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Week in consecutive weeks.

Photo by Norm Hall.
And that’s no small feat, considering the CHL not only includes the Ontario Hockey League, but also the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

Visentin’s strong play is also helping his team climb the standings. Niagara already has secured a playoff berth with a record of 36-14-2-4, good for third place in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s been a fun year,” Visentin said. “My first two years (in juniors) were on losing teams. On my path to juniors I was always on winning teams, so it’s a bit different. I think this year we have a really solid team and we’ve won a lot of games.”

Visentin says he can’t take all the credit for Niagara’s success this season, and thanks his teammates in large part for helping him.

“It’s nice to be credited for having a good weekend, but you can’t go without crediting your defense and your forwards in front of you,” Visentin said. “If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have had the weekends I’ve had the past few weeks.”

Photo by Getty Images.
His hard work in Niagara also earned him a roster spot on Team Canada’s World Junior Championship team in December. During that event for elite players he posted a 3-1 record and surrendered just eight goals in the four games he played. His only loss came in the gold-medal game vs. Russia.

Despite losing the gold-medal game, Visentin describes his experience at the WJC as an excellent growing experience.

“The whole experience, from the camp at the beginning of December, to just meeting all the guys and becoming a team so quickly, it was like ‘press the fast-forward button and get going’ and I think it was a big learning tool for me,” Visentin said.

While he enjoys setting and reaching individual goals, Visentin’s main goal is to help his team collect points in the standings.

“My main focus is here in Niagara, helping the team win,” Visentin said. “There’s going to be rough games and there’s going to be great games. For me, winning is the most important thing, whether you let in zero goals, or five or six.”
 
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