Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Windsor's Engelage gets Wings tryout

Jim Parker
Windsor Star

Windsor Spitfires goaltender Andrew Engelage is certain to split some allegiances.

Playing in a border town known for its split rivalries between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, the 18-year-old Engelage has chosen to pursue his hockey future with the Wings over the Leafs.

Bypassed in last month's NHL Draft, Engelage was offered a chance to come to camp with both teams, but had to make a decision when both camps lined up the same week.

"It wasn't tough when you're looking for the best opportunity," Engelage said. "There's not a ton (of prospects) in Detroit's system."

So Engelage, who grew up a Toronto fan, will instead attend Detroit's strength and conditioning camp for prospects at Joe Louis Arena from Thursday through next Tuesday.

"It's a little disappointing they didn't pick me up in the draft, but they (the Red Wings) called me after the draft and asked me if I wanted to come and I took the opportunity," Engelage said.

Detroit didn't take a goalie with any of its five picks in this year's draft, but assistant general manager Jim Nill spoke glowingly about the six-foot-five, 192-pound Engelage before the draft.

"He came out of nowhere," Nill said of Windsor's 13th round pick in 2005.

"He still has to work on some things, but for a big man he moves well for his size. Big goalies that move well are hard to find."

Engelage assumed Windsor's No. 1 goaltending job when Anthony Guadagnolo was dealt early last year and went on to post a 12-24-0-3 record with a 4.35 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage on a very young Windsor team.


"He played well considering how tough a year it was," Nill said. "A lot of nights, he was on his own out there."

Engelage is the youngest of three goalies invited to Detroit's camp along with 20-year-old Real Cyr, who played for Prince George in the Western Hockey League, and 20-year-old Pier-Olivier Pelletier, who was a former second-round NHL pick by Phoenix and played for Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"That's how my whole hockey career has gone," Engelage said. "The whole time it's been to show people I can play."

While a pro contract won't come out of this camp, the fact Engelage plays in Windsor will give the Red Wings a chance to follow him closely next season.

Nill usually takes in a handful of games at Windsor Arena during the season.

"They're just 10 minutes away," Engelage said. "I think it helps that they can just pop over and catch a game more than anywhere else." or 519-255-5777 ext. 413


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