View Full Version : Former Pat goes Wild over time in big leagues

04-21-2006, 05:23 PM
from reginapats.com

Former Pat goes Wild over time in big leagues

Greg Harder, Leader-Post
Published: Friday, April 21, 2006

Josh Harding can hear the call of the Wild.

The Regina-born goaltender is officially knocking at the door of the NHL after getting his first taste of primetime during a successful late-season callup with the Minnesota Wild.

The former Regina Pats star made an immediate impression by winning two of his three starts, including a 27-save shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It was a blast," Harding said earlier this week after rejoining the Houston Aeros in time for the AHL playoffs. "The coaches seemed to be really happy with me and I'm happy with the way I played. I think I left a good impression on everybody. Obviously there was a lot of pressure in all three of those games but I thought I handled it pretty well."

No kidding.

Harding won his first career start in dramatic fashion, posting a 5-4 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues on April 4. He went on to blank the Blackhawks 2-0 on April 11 before suffering his first defeat on April 13, a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.

Overall, Harding's numbers were worthy of a seasoned veteran, posting a 2.59 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. It may have looked easy, but Harding's frazzled nerves suggested otherwise.

"They were there the whole time," he said with a laugh. "I thought after the first couple saves they would be getting less and less. But when you have 19,000 people looking down on you and you're the guy who is going to make or break it, there's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of nerves. I'm just happy everything turned out well."

Since Minnesota didn't make the playoffs, Harding's stay in the NHL ended with the conclusion of the regular schedule. He rejoined the Aeros in time to use their final two games as a tuneup for the AHL playoffs, which begin tonight against the Peoria Rivermen.

"Minnesota was a great time," added Harding. "Those are definitely memories that will never be forgotten, but I have to put those aside right now and focus on the job at hand. I'm sure I'll celebrate when I get home for the summer but right now I'm pretty focused on the playoffs."

Harding wouldn't be human if he didn't feel somewhat of a letdown upon his return to the minors. However, he views the assignment to Houston as an opportunity to keep playing as opposed to a demotion.

"If (Minnesota) was still playing it would be really tough going back, but I love playing hockey," offered Harding. "I love being down here, I love being put in pressure situations. I've done that all my life. When I got the opportunity to come back to Houston, I'm going to take full advantage of it. If I have a good playoff run there shouldn't be any more questions about me."

Harding's journey to Minnesota can be traced back to the summer of 2002, when the former WHL MVP became the first-ever goaltender to be drafted by the Wild (second round, 38th overall).

After concluding his junior career in 2003-04, Harding spent two full seasons in Houston, where he quickly developed into one of the AHL's premier netminders.

A call from the Wild appeared imminent -- it was just a matter of when.

04-22-2006, 06:30 PM
Wow, I was just about to post this. Apparently I am blind since Ive visited this site this morning and didnt notice the post. Anyways...

Its nice that the Leader-Post is still following Harding. The Leader-Post has lacked follow-up stories on players, unless they are in an Internation tourney of some kind. Hardings a good goaltender... and Im betting that he will be on the team next year as a back-up, unless the Wild trade for another goaltender in the off-season. But I doubt they will, as Harding has proven that he can play with the big boys.