Glen Sonmor, the Minnesota North Stars' coach, thinks it's time for a change, so 19-year-old Don Beaupre will start in goal for the Stars in Thursday's second game of the Stanley Cut final against the New York Islanders.
Although Gilles Meloche was ineffective in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the Islanders and missed today's practice with a mild case of bronchitis, Sonmor said those factors were not paramount in his decision.
"I'll change goalies when I think it's time for a change," Sonmor said. "We won our first playof game in Boston with Meloche, but I used Beaupre the next night. Meloche told me, 'I can't understand it,' and Beaupre said, 'It's illogical.' But we won the second game, too.
"We have two goaltenders in whom I have the greatest faith and the players have the greatest faith. To get the most out of them we have to use them. If we believe what we're saying, not to use both would be to go against that."
Beaupre, a regular-season standout with an 18-14-11 record and 3.20 goals-against average, has played one game in each of Minnesota's three previous playoff series. Although yielding 13 goals, he won all three, and it seems likely Sonmor is counting on the players' regard for Beaupre as a good-luck charm to produce a turnabout.
The pressure situation seemingly has had little effect on Beaupre, who insisted that he would not approach Thursday's game any differently.
"I'm not nervous," Beaupre said. "I'll just go out and give it my best. I'm more concerned about the fact that I haven't played for quite a while." beaupre's last action came in a 6-4 victory over Calgary May 3. He watched Tuesday's defeat from the bench and said that was tougher than playing.
"I really wanted to get in there, especially after they got those three goals in the first period," Beaupre said. "I wanted to help the team. I think we really were a little nervous about being in the final. Now we've waked up and we're ready to play our game."
If Beaupre can give the North Stars a lift and carry them a victory that would be the conclusion of a story that would make Horatio Alger applaud.
The North Stars acquired Beaupre last summer as the 37th selection in the amateur draft. They wanted both him and winger Brad Palmer, but they knew Palmer would not be available in the second round, so they picked him first and hoped the rest of the league would follow tradition and not draft a goaltender so high. It worked, although many teams were more in need of a goalie than Minnesota, which had both Meloche and Gary Edwards.
Beaupre's visit to training camp was considered a formality; he was ticketed to spend the season with his junior team in Sudbury, Ontario. But he played so well, including an exhibition shutout of Quebec, that he was allowed to play in the season opener, a 9-3 rout of Hartford. He was 5-1-1 after seven starts and Edwards never made an appearance, eventually being traded to Edmonton.
"All we did was show the courage to let him play," Sonmor said. "I'm amazed by him. He has the poise and concentration to be a great NHL goal-tender."
"I only have to stop the puck; I don't have to beat it up," Beaupre said.