30-year-old MacIntyre to make first NHL start tonight

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After 351 AHL games, 56 in the ECHL and two in the KHL, Drew MacIntyre will finally start his first National Hockey League contest tonight, as he gets the nod for Toronto when the Leafs take on the Panthers in Florida.

While it’ll be his first-ever start, this isn’t MacIntyre’s first foray into an NHL contest. The journeyman netminder has appeared in five games over the course of his career, all relief appearances, including one this year for Toronto — a 3-2 loss to New Jersey in which he replaced James Reimer and fared well, stopping all 14 shots faced.

Here’s more, from the Canadian Press:

The goaltender who gives MacIntyre inspiration is Tim Thomas, who didn’t make his first career NHL start until the age of 28 and didn’t get a real chance until after a sojourn to Europe showed what kind of performer he could become.

Family members and friends always bring up Thomas, now a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup-winner, to give MacIntyre hope. And he buys into that belief.

“He did it. I don’t see why I couldn’t do it,” MacIntyre said. “I’m not saying I’m going to be Tim Thomas if I get a chance, but I like to think I can compete well up here.”

If nothing else, MacIntyre should be given credit for the amount of travel he’s done over the last eight years. The list of cities he’s played in over that time? Manitoba (Winnipeg), Vancouver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Hamilton, Rochester, Buffalo, Prague, Reading and Toronto.