View From The Booth...Black Aces

Although the Monsters season ended at The Q, there has been some activity on the ice at their practice facility at Hoover Arena in Strongsville. Monsters head coach David Quinn, assistant coach Dan Laperriere and Monsters defensemen Brian Fahey and Kevin Montgomery have been the cause.

Both Fahey and Montgomery were recently selected by the Colorado Avalanche as "Black Aces" during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "Black Aces,” if you don't know, are players that the parent NHL clubs select to basically be on standby if someone is injured during the playoffs. Odds are, players that are selected for this duty won't play but they are still a big part of the team. For our players here in Lake Erie, it means that the parent club noticed their play, ability, work ethic and talent during the course of the AHL regular season.

This past week, both Fahey and Montgomery skated for an hour each morning Tuesday through Friday. They went through skating drills, some stick handling, passing, and shooting drills. Most of the time it’s work that goes unnoticed because players that are “Black Aces” rarely get a chance to play, but you never know.

I witnessed first hand, when I was on the ice with them for a few of their training sessions this past week, that these two men are very serious and determined to do everything and anything they can to help the team if they are needed for playoff action.

I really respect what both Fahey and Montgomery did this season on the ice for the Monsters. Fahey has one of the hardest shots in the AHL. It's an absolute bomb when he lets it fly. He plays with a lot of passion, grit, and heart and loves to play the body. He's a veteran guy who is very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Avs playoff run.

As for Montgomery, who we all know as "Monty," he is a very talented young prospect for the Avs. He is such a great passer. His vision on the ice is one of the strengths to his game. He's a player that I believe had a very successful first full professional season and I believe is going to be a very good NHL player once his game is fully developed.

I had a chance to talk with Montgomery Friday morning after his hour long skate. I started out asking Montgomery how it felt to be named one of the Avs "Black Aces".

"I think it's always a special thing to get a chance to watch some NHL playoff games, get some experience and extend the season a little bit, so, I'm happy."

And for the Rochester, New York, native it was a great feeling when he was told by the coaches he was being asked to stay involved with the Avs playoff run.

"I was pretty surprised. You never know what the coaches really think. You don't get much feedback throughout the year, so it was definitely a positive thing for me."

Montgomery, Fahey, Quinn, Laperriere, and general manager David Oliver all flew to Denver this weekend. Both players joined the Avs at the Mile High City after game two of the first round playoff series with the San Jose Sharks. The Avs took an early 1-0 lead in the series after former Monsters forward Chris Stewart got the game winner with less than one minute to play in the third period on Wednesday night.

As for Fahey and Montgomery on their trip to Denver, Montgomery said, “There’s always a chance you could get the call (to play). I think it's going to be cool skating with those types of players and being able to watch some NHL games."

Back to the Avs and Sharks for a moment now. I asked Montgomery what he thought of the game one win on the road for the Avs.

"I wasn't surprised at all. They've had a great year. They started off the year as one of the best teams in the league. I think they can definitely take the Sharks in the series."

Montgomery didn't spend any time up with the Avs this past season, but I think that will come on a permanent basis for him sooner rather than later.

Looking back on his first full pro season with the Monsters, Montgomery told me, "I thought I had a pretty decent year. I had a lot of ups and downs being a rookie, I was just getting used to the level of play and the schedule."

As for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's something Montgomery has been following all of his young life with his family. In fact, as a kid growing up in Rochester, Montgomery's favorite team was the Mark Messier-led Rangers.

"When I was a kid, I was a huge New York Rangers fan. In 1994 when they won the Cup that was pretty special for my family. We were pretty pumped about that. The NHL Playoffs have always been a part of my family and I just want to keep it going."

Now, in a unique way, Kevin Montgomery and his Monsters teammate Brian Fahey get a chance to be a part of the greatest playoffs in pro sports, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the Avs. A great way for two very deserving players to cap off their respective 2009-2010 hockey seasons!

Ben Holden

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