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Tuesday, 09.19.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
New York Islanders
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Local goaltending invitee impressing coaches early

By Tina Comeau

The pads, the blocker, the trapper, the mask.

It's what got Mike Mole hooked on being a goalie when, as a kid, he would go to a friend's house and play ball hockey in the basement.

"His father was a goaltender.and we would play with his dad's equipment and that's what really got me into it," says Mole, who was invited by the Islanders to suit up for the team's training camp in Yarmouth.

"To this day I still love the equipment. It's probably one of my favourite parts about being a goalie."

But while the equipment may have been the attraction, these days Mole, 23, thrives on the pressure that comes with being a goalie.

"You kind of make or break the game and I like that," he says. "I like knowing that the team has to count on you and you have to hold yourself accountable in order for the team to win."

Mole has been turning heads at camp. Following Sunday's blue/white game head coach Ted Nolan says of all the goalies on the ice, he was most impressed by Mole's performance. He blocked 14 of 15 shots. Assistant head coach Danny Flynn has also had positive observations about Mole's skill at camp.

Incidentally, Flynn coached Mole when he played university hockey with St. Francis Xavier University. Mole was named tournament MVP the year the school, under Flynn, captured its first national championship title. St. FX is one of two colleges coming to camp this week to play exhibition games with the players who will be vying for a spot with the Islanders' Bridgeport AHL team.

Mole, who played pro hockey in Phoenix last year, is no stranger to NHL training camps. He's attended camps with Ottawa and Buffalo. He's hoping the third time is the charm.

He is also no stranger to Yarmouth, where the Islanders camp is being held. His father Kevin was born and raised in Yarmouth and although Mole grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, he and his family used to visit Yarmouth often.

Flynn says he's not surprised Mole has been doing well at camp. He says the invitee got here on his merits and he's been showing why he's deserving of more than a passing glance. Flynn adds another reason Mole and other goalies are here at camp is because the Islanders organization lacks depth when it comes to young goalies below the National Hockey League level.

Tina Comeau writes for the Yarmouth Vanguard newspaper.

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