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article imageToronto Maple Leafs to give Drew MacIntyre first NHL start at 30

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 10, 2014 in Sports
After only being officially eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, most of the Toronto Maple Leafs might have trouble getting up for tonight's game in Miami against the Florida Panthers. But not Drew MacIntyre.
The veteran AHL goalie, 30, will be making the first NHL start of his career. He's played in five NHL games, two with the Vancouver Canucks, another two with the Buffalo Sabres and recently one with the Leafs, but they've all been in relief. He's also played 351 AHL games, 56 in the ECHL and two in the KHL (his Russian career was cut short thanks to a broken ankle in his second start).
Since turning pro in 2003, in addition to the NHL clubs he's been with he's played for the Toledo Storm and Reading Royals (ECHL), the Grand Rapids Griffins, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals, Chicago Wolves, Rochester Americans, Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Prague Lev (KHL). He's had 18 pro shutouts and even an assist in the AHL playoffs.
He's done well everywhere he's gone but it was always the other guy getting the NHL chance. Now, with Jonathan Bernier injured and James Reimer taking a turn on the bench, it's MacIntyre's turn and he's confident he can do the job.
"It literally feels like every day I see one of the guys that I've competed against for a while getting starts and becoming a No. 1 goalie in the NHL," he said recently. "So that kind of thing can get frustrating because I've competed pretty well against all those guys. That's just more evidence that I believe that I can play here (in the NHL)."
MacIntyre will likely go up against two-time Olympic gold medalists Roberto Luongo in the Panthers goal, whom he knew while with the Canucks organization. it doesn't matter who he plays, of course, he's just determined to play well and make enough of a name for himself that some NHL club will give him a chance to be a roster NHL goalie.
As TSN reported, MacIntyre looks to former Boston Bruin (and former Florida Panther) Tim Thomas as an inspiration. Thomas didn't get his first NHL start until age 28 and after that continued in the minors and Europe before earning a regular NHL job. Thomas went on to win the Conn Smythe trophy as MVP of the playoffs in 2011.
"He did it. I don't see why I couldn't do it," MacIntyre said. "I'm not saying I'm going to be Tim Thomas if I get a chance, but I like to think I can compete well up here."
It all starts tonight.
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