Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/5/11
It's not like being in the National Hockey League is a completely new experience for Dallas Stars rookie goaltender Richard Bachman. The 24-year-old netminder appeared in one game for the Stars last season, coming into a game against Phoenix and stopped all four shots he faced in his NHL debut. "That was awesome. It was such a great experience to see some shots, get some experience and see some ice time to get comfortable with how everything works up here during the regular season," Bachman said. "I think that really helped me for this year wanting to get back, wanting to get more of a taste and be familiar with the whole organization and how it runs on the normal gamedays here." But this time around, things are a bit different for the Dallas prospect. With starter Kari Lehtonen out for the next few weeks with a groin injury and Andrew Raycroft, who was Lehtonen's backup until the injury, elevated to starting status, he was dispatched from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to serve as Raycroft's backup until Lehtonen was fully recovered. And with the Stars heading out on a crucial, five-game road trip later this week, Bachman figures to get his first NHL start, likely on the tail end of the trek when Glen Gulutzan's club is on the East Coast facing the likes of the Devils, Islanders and Rangers. When he does get that first start between the posts for the Stars, it will be a big moment for the young prospect, but until that happens, he's more focused on taking it day-to-day in Big D and absorbing all he can from his teammates and coaches. "Yeah, it's exciting. It's something I've been waiting a long time to do and a goal of mine since I've been a little kid," Bachman said. "So it's exciting to have that opportunity and have it in the forefront there. I'm just taking it day-by-day while I'm here, trying to get better and learn as much as I can. Working with Mike Valley has been awesome every day and getting in that rhythm. You don't want to get too far ahead, so right now I'm just worried about every day and being ready in case there's a need for me to go in because of injury or anything like that. That's my main focus right now. If the opportunity comes, I'll worry about it then." In 15 games with the Texas Stars, he was 7-6-1 with a pair of shutouts and a goals-against-average of 3.13 goals per game. Two of his teammates in Cedar Park were defenseman Philip Larsen and winger Tomas Vincour, both of whom were recalled by the Stars prior to his arrival. So, seeing two of his ex-teammates from the AHL is definitely a welcome sight for this Salt Lake City native. "It's awesome. It's always good to have those one or two guys that you're close with and you can always ask them something," Bachman said. "All the guys here have been awesome. You really get to know these guys and they welcome you in. It's not like you come here and you're nervous about asking anything. They're all here to help you get better and pursue your dream." But those aren't the only familiar faces that awaited him after he was summoned from the minors. He's also quite familiar with Gulutzan, having previously played for him in the AHL and that too helped his comfort level with the Stars. "Yeah, it was awesome for him to be able to come up here and for me, it's good because I already know everything," Bachman said. "Obviously there are a couple of tweaks here and there but the core system is all intact. I already have a sense of what's going on and don't have to play catch up when I do get here. I already know where the D are going to be going, what he wants them to do, what he wants me to do and what he expects, so I think that really helps just clarify any gray spots since I've already got the background." Fans of the legendary horror writer Stephen King know that the young Stars goaltender shares a pen name with King, something this talented netminder is more than a little aware of. "Yeah, I've gotten that a few times. Parents didn't mean to do that," Bachman said. "I think he started using that pen name the year I was born, so it's kind of coincidence. Maybe he took mine, I don't know. No correlation to that, just a random, little fact." While it remains unclear exactly how long he will remain in Dallas, at least until Lehtonen returns to full health, this up-and-comer plans on making the most of a great opportunity to learn from veteran goaltenders like Raycroft, a guy who has been both a starter and backup in the NHL. "He's an awesome guy," Bachman said. "He's always there. He'll answer any question. He leads by example and he's a great professional. It's fun to watch him play. When I was in high school, I was watching him play. It's great to be able to sit beside him in the dressing room here. You just watch his practice habits and little things and you can learn so much. He's an outstanding goalie and I couldn't ask for a better guy to be in here with." And it's clear that respect goes both ways. "Yeah, Bachs is a great guy. He's excited to be here. It's just fun to have a little energy from a new guy," Raycroft said. "Everything's exciting and new to him-the planes, the hotels and everything. It kind of gives you a little more energy when you've been around and done the same hotel, the same bus drivers, same cities, everything. So, it's nice when there's a new guy around with a little more energy. He's a great guy and fun to be around." Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is also glad to see Bachman continuing to progress well in the minors and the recent inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame is also excited about what the future will likely hold for his young netminder. "Well, he had a great camp for us, played a great exhibition game for us against Colorado in Colorado. I think this is important, having him up," Niuewendyk said. "He's facing NHL shots every day in practice. He's going to play for us at some point here because we can't play Raycorft every day. He's a good goalie. Technically, he's a good goalie. He's proven himself in the minors too, in the American Hockey League. He's ready for the challenge."
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