Monday, January 30, 2012

Absurd Goalie Monday: Dieter Kochan

For many, you have to go through the systems in order to get to the pros, especially when bounced around before you ever start your career. However, this week's AGM went from a big leap and actually because the first player to go from so low to that high. This week, the profile of Dieter Kochan.

Born in Saskatchewan, Kochan first came into his own in Wisconsin high school, playing for the Edgewood Crusaders in the 1990-91 season, before moving to the USHL in the 1991-92 season with the Sioux City Musketeers, going 7-10-0 in 23 games that season. Kochan would move to the BCHL for the Kelowna Spartans going 34-8-0 in 44 games, then 12-3 in 15 playoff games, helping the Spartans win the BCHL and then the Centennial Cup for all of Canadian Junior A league champions.

After his Junior A venture,Kochan was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1993 Entry Draft in the fourth round. However, Kochan moved to the NCAA ranks with Northern Michigan University starting in the 1993-94 season, going 9-7-0 in 20 appearances, while in 1994-95, Kochan compiled a 8-17-3 record in 29 games. In his junior year of 1995-96 season, Kochan played in 31 games and went 7-21-2, while in his final season in 1996-97, he went 8-15-2 in 26 games.

Kochan moved to the pro ranks in the 1997-98 season with the ECHL's Louisville Riverfrogs, going 7-9-2 in 18 games. However, he would be on the move to the UHL with the BC Icemen in the 1998-99 season, going 18-16-5 in 40 games, while then going 1-2 in four playoff appearances. Also, Kochan would score a goal in a game in January against the Winston-Salem.

The 1999-2000 season was quite a busy one for Kochan, as he would start out with the Binghamton Icemen, but would bounce from there to the IHL's Orlando Solar Bears for four games (4-0-0), then to the Grand Rapid Griffins for two games (1-0-1) and then back to the Icemen before getting the call to the NHL by the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming the first goalie to go from the UHL directly to the NHL. Kochan played five games for the Bolts, going 1-4-0 before moving to the AHL's Springfield Falcons for two games (1-1-0). At the end of the season for the Iceman, Kochan went 29-11-3 for the year, getting second team All-Star honors.

The 2000-01 season settled down for Kochan, as he played primarily for the IHL's Detroit Vipers, finishing with a 13-28-3 record in 49 games, but would make 10 showings for the Lightning, going 0-3-0 in those appearances. Kochan would move up to the AHL's Springfield Falcons for most of the 2001-02 season, going 21-20-1 in 45 games; then appearing in five games for the Lightning, going 0-3-1.

Kochan signed with the Minnesota Wild organization for the 2002-03 season, playing mostly with AHL's Houston Aeros, finishing with a 15-6-3 in 25 games, while playing in one game for Minnesota, a loss.

On the move before the 2003-04 season, Kochan signed with the New York Islanders, but would be relegated to the AHL's Bridgeport Tigers-- playing in 45 games and compiling a 20-17-7 record, then 1-3 in four playoff games. However, Kochan, along with Wade Dubielwicz,won the Harry "Hap" Holmes Award for fewest goals-against in the AHL. Kochan remained in Bridgeport for the 2004-05 season, playing in 39 games and breaking even with a 19-19-0 record.

Without a job in North America, Kochan moved to Russia for the 2005-06 season for Sibir Novosibirsk, playing in only eight games. Kochan moved back to North America during the 2005-06 season, playing in 15 games for the Portland Pirates and going 9-4-1. The 2006-07 season had Kochan signing back in Houston and went 6-14-1 in 23 games for the Aeros before announcing his retirement after the season.

Kochan stayed in hockey for a bit, being the volunteer goalie coach for Michigan Tech from 2008 until 2011.

Though the orthodox route wasn't what happened with Kochan to get to the NHL, he was a guy who still hung in their rough despite not having the team around him or the record to help back him up. He had his moment to shine and will have the record to get the call from a very lower minor league to the show.

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