Kolzig looks for a shot to show Caps Rookie goalie fights Dafoe to be backup HOCKEY

September 24, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

If goaltender Olie Kolzig had been asked last winter whether he'd be with the Washington Capitals today, the 23-year-old would have said no.

"I'd be lying if I told you anything else," Kolzig said yesterday. "I thought my career with the Capitals was over when they sent me to Rochester last year, because it wasn't their No. 1 farm team."

But here he is, in a neck-and-neck race with fellow Capitals rookie Byron Dafoe for the backup goalie position. Tonight, Kolzig expects to play against the Philadelphia Flyers in Washington's only preseason game at USAir Arena.

"How much I'll play, I don't know," he said. "But because I didn't get much work against Ottawa, I'm pretty sure I'll play some, and if I play like I'm capable of playing, I think I can earn the roster spot."

Kolzig, 2-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average, is coming off an 8-2 victory in Ottawa on Wednesday. But he is not as happy about that as one might imagine. Kolzig needs to make an impression, and he says the Ottawa game did nothing to enhance his chances.

"I only had to face 17 shots," Kolzig said. "We pretty much dominated the game, and the goals they did get went in off our defensemen. We won the game, and I know that is the sole purpose of playing, but in training camp it is a little different. You want to show off your talents. I did feel good in the game. I didn't fall asleep or lose concentration -- and sometimes staying

involved in a game like that is harder than in a game where you're under pressure all the time.

"But to have a game like Ottawa is a let down because I need a big game with constant pressure. I need to be put in key situations to give the coaches a true look at my ability."

Capitals coach Terry Murray said last week that he thought by Sunday's game in Philadelphia he would know which of his two rookies would grab the spot opened by a knee injury to Rick Tabaracci, who is out three to six weeks.

Either Kolzig or Dafoe will start the season with the Capitals. The other will be assigned to the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League. Kolzig said yesterday that he is well-aware of the good fight Dafoe, 1-0-1 with a 2.40 GAA, is putting up.

"I don't know what the coaches are thinking, but if they decide I have to go to Portland, then I'll go and work my way back up," he said. "My goal is to play with the Caps this year, whether that is Oct. 6 or sometime in March. I won't be satisfied until I solidify a spot with the Caps, but for a guy who thought he wasn't going to be with the organization at all, just having this chance is great."

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