Carolina Hurricanes goaltender and former University of Maine standout Scott Darling, coming off the worst season of his National Hockey League career, will have a chance to bounce back and restore his confidence when he suits up for Team USA in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships May 4-20 in Denmark.
The 29-year-old Darling was one of three goalies chosen along with Keith Kinkaid, 28, of the New Jersey Devils and Charlie Lindgren, 24, who played most of the season with the Laval (Quebec) Rocket of the American Hockey League.
The IIHF World Championships feature the best available players in the world. Many of the world’s elite players are involved in the NHL playoffs and aren’t available for the tournament.
The 6-foot-6 Darling spent three seasons backing up Corey Crawford with the Chicago Blackhawks but was traded to the Hurricanes last April for a third-round draft pick.
He signed a four-year $16.6 million contract with the Hurricanes but got off to a rough start and lost the starting job to 34-year-old Cam Ward, who has spent 13 seasons with the Hurricanes.
Darling finished the season with a 13-21-7 record, a 3.18 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. He did turn in some of his better performances at the end of the season, posting a .911 save percentage over his last four starts.
In a late-season story in the News & Observer based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Darling, said “I didn’t start well and it maybe kind of got in my head a little bit. You’re here, you’re new, you want to play so well, want to have an impact right away. I started forcing it a little bit and it’s kind of like quicksand, the harder you battle the quicker you sink.”
Kinkaid, who played at Union College, spent four seasons backing up former Boston College goalie Cory Schneider before appearing in a career-high 41 games this season, compiling a 26-10-3 mark with a 2.77 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He appeared in two playoff games, losing both and registering a 5.88 GAA and a .804 save percentage.
Lindgren, who played his college hockey at St. Cloud State, was 8-19-2 with a 3.39 GAA and a .886 save percentage for Laval. He also appeared in 14 games for the parent Montreal Canadiens, going 4-8-2 with a 3.03 GAA and a .908 save percentage.
The 28-year-old Nyquist was the Red Wings’ second-leading goal scorer with 21. He also had 19 assists and his 40 points were fourth on the team. He played in all 82 games.
It was his third season with 20 or more goals for the Red Wings as he had 28 during 2013-2014 and 27 in the 2014-2015 seasons.
Team USA is in a group that includes Canada, Finland, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and Korea. Sweden is in a bracket that includes Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Slovakia, France and Austria.
Team USA and Sweden open round-robin play on Friday as the Americans will face arch-rival Canada and Sweden will take on Belarus.
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