Caps goalie Tabaracci sidelined 3 to 6 weeks Kolzig, Dafoe to vie for backup spot HOCKEY

September 18, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

Washington Capitals goaltender Rick Tabaracci, who injured his right knee during a scrimmage Thursday at Piney Orchard, has a partially torn medial collateral ligament and will be out from three to six weeks.

Tabaracci, who had hoped to challenge veteran Don Beaupre for the No. 1 goaltending job during preseason camp, did not let the news get him down. By midafternoon yesterday, he was back at the training facility getting ice treatments and making plans to ride the stationary bike by Monday or Tuesday.

"It was kind of scary not knowing what was wrong," Tabaracci said. "But now that I know it won't require surgery and that I can get back to working out and not lose too much conditioning I'm approaching it with the same attitude I came to camp with. It's early in training camp, I'm here to play a lot of hockey and it's going to be a good season."

The loss of Tabaracci disturbs at least one of coach Terry Murray's plans. Before training camp began, Murray was delighted at the prospect of Tabaracci and Beaupre pushing each other to higher levels of play. Now, Beaupre will have to challenge himself for a few weeks, while rookies Olaf Kolzig and Byron Dafoe vie for the backup spot in Tabaracci's absence.

"Donnie has been our No. 1 for the past couple of years and he's the man now," said Capitals general manager David Poile. "But based on the performances of Olie and Byron the last couple of years [in the minor leagues], what an opportunity this presents them. Opportunity is exactly what they're looking for and they're at the stage in their careers where they've earned the chance.

"Even if we get the best scenario with Rick and he's out just three weeks, it means Olie or Byron will start the season with us."

Over the next 10 days, which include eight preseason games, Kolzig and Dafoe will determine who gets to make the trip to Winnipeg opening night, Oct. 6.

Kolzig, who won 25 games with a 3.72 goals-against average, had his best season a year ago while on loan to Rochester, leading the Americans to the AHL finals. He also played one period for the Capitals against the Philadelphia Flyers last January and allowed two goals.

Dafoe played 48 games for the Baltimore Skipjacks, going 16-20-7, with a 4.38 goals-against average.

"Last week Olie said we're looking for him and Byron 'to do something special,' " said Poile. "That sums it up pretty well. We'll be looking for exactly that over the next 10 days."

Tabaracci joined the Capitals last March from Winnipeg and immediately impressed management with his energy and talent. He went 3-2-0, including two shutouts, in his six regular-season starts.

This weekend he said he would rest around his house and watch some football.

"It's frustrating because it isn't something like a sore ankle you can play with," Tabaracci said. "Maybe I should call [injured Washington Redskins quarterback] Mark Rypien and he could share some information on knee injuries while we watch a couple games."

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