In this first of a two-part installment of Rays On The Record, goaltender Daren Machesney chats with the Stingrays’ Joe Shetrom. “Cheeser,” 20, is coming off his first season as a pro; a 2006/07 campaign that saw stops in the ECHL, AHL & NHL. Prior to the start of this year’s Calder Cup Finals, the Washington Capitals’ 2005 5th round pick talked about some of the highs and lows of his rookie year, as well as his time in the OHL.
JS: First off, Daren, how would you assess your rookie pro year?
DM: It’s definitely been a long one. It didn’t start out the way I wanted it to; I didn’t play too good and resulted in a lack of ice time. But I think after Christmastime I became more of a pro.
JS: You’ve had the chance to take in Hershey’s run to the Calder Cup this season, so how’s that experience been for you and what have you learned along the way?
DM: Just that these guys are so dedicated. They don’t win on skill; they win on commitment and dedication.
JS: One of your highlights from this season had to be your back-up stints in December and February with the Capitals. What were those experiences like for you?
DM: Yeah, those were pretty close to my goal. When you’re sitting front stage and kind of taking it all in, you’re just hoping that maybe one day you’ll get that opportunity to go in there and show what you can do. That’s what it’s all about.
JS: Were you surprised at the recall, especially since other goalies were bypassed?
DM: Well, what happened is that we had injuries up here (in Hershey), and it was more convenient for me to go up. “Maxie” (former Stingrays netminder Maxime Daigneault) was hurt, and “Freddie” (Frederic Cassivi) was just coming off an injury, so it wasn’t that I was bypassing anybody, it was just more convenient to call me up.
JS: It had to be a pretty memorable week, going from
to Hershey and getting your first AHL start, then up to the Caps.
DM: Yeah, it was a heckuva weekend. I think I played my first AHL game, got home late that night and got a call, went and backed up in the NHL, then came back late that night and played at 5 the next night and beat
. So, it was probably one of the best weekends of the year.
JS: You entered the 06/07 season as a 19-year-old. Did you feel intimidated playing against much older players?
DM: I have a late birthday, so I’ve always been one of the younger guys. But, no, I wasn’t intimidated. I think I came in a little naïve; I didn’t really know what to expect. The biggest thing in pros is that you’re living on your own; you’re fending for yourself. I think that’s what I struggled with, and I think it might have taken a toll on my game earlier in the year. I think I grew up a little quicker doing this this year.
JS: Did you feel ready to come in, or looking back would you have preferred another year in juniors?
DM: It’s tough to say, “I should’ve done this, I should’ve done that.” Once you make a decision you stick with it.
JS: You started this season with the Stingrays, earning your first professional shutout Nov. 19 against
. How did it feel and what do you remember about that one?
DM: It was great because my first start was awful. I got yanked; I think I only saw a period and a half. It was a nightmare. I think the guys in
thought, “Is this guy for real? He can’t even stop a beach ball.” So, I really had to prove something – I wanted to make a statement.
JS: You earned your first AHL win Dec. 29 against the Albany River Rats. What do you recall about that victory?
DM: That was a great game. I played against a couple of guys I played against in junior -- Justin Peters, the other goalie, we’ve been playing against each other since we were about 8 years old. It was neat to play my first game against him. It was a close game.
JS: At one point this season, you and fellow Stingrays goaltender Davis Parley were Hershey’s goaltending tandem. Did you sense a case of déjà vu?
DM: Yeah, it was weird. We also had [Paxton] Schaefer at the time, too, so Parley and I were really never on the same bench together. Actually, I think he did back me up for a game. It was kind of neat, but kind of weird, too.
JS: We’ve got the Bears and the Hamilton Bulldogs in this year’s Calder Cup Finals, and you’re a
DM: I was born in
. I lived there for five years, but I live in London (
JS: So will it feel like a homecoming of sorts?
DM: Yeah, actually. It’ll be neat. I have a lot of friends that I think are going to want to see it…I’ve always played hockey around that area.
JS: You led the Brampton Battalion to their best-ever finish in 05/06, posting 28 wins and 3 shutouts en route to the Central Division title. What stood out to you about that campaign?
DM: We had a great year. We had an unbelievable finish to the regular season; I think we won, like, 18 games in a row. I really thought we had the team do it, but looking back now I think we fell short on depth. We had two or three really good players – Wojtek Wolski, Luciano Aquino, and Michael Vernace – but after that we kind of fell short. With this team here, I think that’s why we do so well – the depth.
JS: What did you think about those Battalion jerseys?
DM: (Laughing) They were quite flashy. I had yellow pads in those days, so I was probably one of the ugliest-looking goalies in the league.
Note: Part 2 of Joe’s conversation with Machesney will be posted Tuesday.
Come join the Stingrays for their 15th Anniversary Season! The 2007-08 season begins on Oct. 20 at 7:05 p.m. as the Rays take on in-state rival Columbia Inferno! Deposits are being taken now for the 2007-08 South Carolina Stingrays season tickets! For just $100 you can reserve your seat to every hard-hitting, action-packed game at the North Charleston Coliseum. For more information including benefits, pricing, and package options, please call the Stingrays front office at 744-2248 or view the information online at www.stingrayshockey.com. Stingrays Hockey – A Whole