- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2000

RALEIGH, N.C. The goal for goalkeeper Sebastian Charpentier in the Washington Capitals' training camp this season was to see if he could overcome chronic pain in one of his ankles that had put at least a temporary hold on a promising career.

Funny how those things work out. With Olie Kolzig on the mend and Craig Billington starting, the 23-year-old is now one stubbed toe away from making his NHL debut.

Washington's preseason record fell to 1-3-1 last night as Carolina drubbed the Caps 6-3, scoring three of its goals on two-man advantages. The Hurricanes made Washington's youngsters look like just that, rookies, while the veterans didn't fare any better.

Even with the Caps trailing 5-2, the game appeared extremely winnable. But Washington failed to connect on either of its two-man advantages, although Craig Berube scored subsequently.

Right wing Shane Willis scored three first-period goals but did not get a natural hat trick because Jeff Halpern scored between Nos. 2 and 3. Peter Bondra notched his first of the preseason 12 minutes before Berube on a night marked mainly by sloppy play.

The game started badly and continued that way. Bondra missed the net on an excellent chance early, and Billington let in the first shot he faced. It got no better.

Billington's job as the backup was to be prepared for the unexpected, and Kolzig's knee surgery was the unexpected. It is Charpentier who had his life turned around.

"I certainly feel sorry for Olie," Charpentier said. "I guess he could have had the surgery during the summer or something. But for myself, I guess it's good experience."

Earlier Charpentier had been the one sitting out while others took his place. Two years ago, he developed pain in an ankle that became so bad he couldn't play. Surgery didn't fix the problem, and a second round was scheduled before the real cause of the pain was discovered: arthritis. Daily medication replaced the scheduled surgery, and it worked.

The situation in goal has developed so suddenly that details are still being worked out when Billington and Charpentier will play. But if the old schedule is followed, Charpentier will face Buffalo tomorrow night. He is 0-2-0 so far this preseason with a goals against of 4.71.

"I guess everything is sort of a surprise for everybody," he said. "We haven't really had time to think about it. I'm just trying to keep focus on my game. I'm still excited still to be here, and I guess I'll probably be here another three weeks."

Which brings up the trickle-down effect. The Caps lose Kolzig, which means their Portland Pirates affiliate in the American Hockey League loses Charpentier. To make up for that loss, the Pirates keep Rastislava Stana, who had been headed for the Richmond Renegades in the East Coast Hockey League. Unfortunately for Richmond, it is at the bottom of the chain.

Notes As expected, Terry Yake and Dmitri Mironov were exposed in the waiver draft, as were part-timers Jamie Huscroft and Rod Zettler. The draft is scheduled for noon tomorrow, and the Caps would be overjoyed if some team claimed Mironov and his $3 million salary. General manager George McPhee said he doesn't think any player of value would be available by the time the Caps pick 40th overall. That could mean the club will pass on its third chance to sign Enrico Ciccone… .

It didn't take Carolina GM Jim Rutherford long to pry offensive defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh away from Colorado at the June draft. Rutherford said he heard the player was available one night and set up a breakfast meeting the next day, and the deal was done before the eggs got cold. He then signed the Latvian to a five-year, $25.5 million contract… . The Caps will play Buffalo tomorrow night in Erie, Pa., and host Philadelphia on Saturday night.

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