If things keep going this way for Trent Daavettila, it won't be long before the Disney executives start buzzing around the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The timeline of Daavettila's career sounds more like big screen magic than reality. But this is no fairy tale.

A year ago, Daavettila, 25, worked 9 to 5 as a structural engineer. He played hockey in a men's senior league a couple of nights a week. A pro career was a pipe dream.

"It was just strictly for fun, it never crossed my mind at that point," Daavettila said.

And why would it? Two seasons of high school hockey and one year at Division III Finlandia were the sum of his organized career.

He didn't make the team at Michigan Tech, the college he transferred to to become an engineering major. None of his post-college tryouts at various IHL outposts panned out.

At about 6-foot, 185 pounds, he kept hearing the same things: too small, not gritty enough. But more than anything, his blank-slate past held him back.

"With no resume, it really hurt me," Daavettila said.

Jay Storm, a friend who became his agent, kept pushing him to tryouts. He got a chance with the Kalamazoo Wings shortly after training camp last season.

The Wings gave him the longest look of his brief career, but ultimately took a pass. On his way out, Wings' coach Nick Bootland put something in his ear: stay ready, because he'd need him at some point.

Daavettila went back to his engineering job, using his days off to travel to hockey tryouts. Then, in December, the firm laid him off.

In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. For the first time, Daavettila could pursue hockey full time.

It also removed what could have been a difficult decision when the Wings called again in March: whether to leave a lucrative job to take a flier on a pro career.

"You're dropping quite a bit of money to go for a dream you're not really sure about," Daavettila said.

The dream quickly became a reality. In 20 games, Daavettila scored nine goals and had nine assists. He had five points in his first five games.

Soon, his teammates were joking around that they needed to play in a men's league to work on their stickhandling. Daavettila's a bit of a wizard with the stick, a relic of his days playing on a bandbox backyard rink at his home in Howell, Mich.

The Wings told Daavettila they'd bring him back this season, but he left nothing to chance. He took a summer job as an engineer as insurance. With the Wings making the jump to the ECHL from the IHL, he wasn't certain they'd still be interested.

"Nothing's for sure, especially with my background," Daavettila said.

Not only did Daavettila make the team, he thrived. After 14 games, he had eight goals and six assists, among the ECHL leaders for rookies.

That's when his coach, Bootland, called and told him Adirondack had signed him to a professional tryout contract.

"Are you serious?" Daavettila asked him.

Yep. Daavettila joined the Phantoms on Thanksgiving night and got his first action the next day.

A few minutes into that game, he got a golden chance to make a first impression, jumping on a turnover at his own blue line.

Daavetilla has since been hashing out the play with his friends.

"I had too much time," Daavettila said. "I just wanted to make it to the net on my feet still, and just get a shot on net."

He did, but the goalie made the save. Through Thursday, Daavettila, centering the third and fourth lines, was scoreless.

Friday night, Daavettila played in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center, an NHL arena, a long way from Michigan rec rinks.

"There's been so many of those little things along the way, where it's like, ‘I can't believe I'm there, I can't believe I'm here,' " Daavettila said. "Slowly, you just kind of find humor in it all, I guess."

Power-less play

Jon Matsumoto's power-play goal against Lowell on Wednesday broke an 0 for 28 drought that spanned parts of five games.

The Phantoms have converted on just 12 of 109 power -play chances through Thursday, an 11-percent clip. That ranks 28th out of the 29 teams in the league.

Second-period woes

What is it with the Phantoms and second periods?

Over their last six games, including Friday's against Norfolk, opponents have outscored the Phantoms 15-5 in the second period.

In all other periods, they've been outscored 10-5.

First-goal importanceScoring first has carried an inordinate amount of importance for the Phantoms so far this season.


Through Thursday, when the Phantoms get the first goal, they're 6-2-0-0. When they don't, they're 3-8-1-0.

A silver lining

As far as the Phantoms' league-worst offense goes, even baby steps are encouraging.

So while there wasn't much to like about the Phantoms' 5-3 loss to Lowell on Wednesday, there's always this:

Combined with their win over Hershey on Nov. 28, the six goals are the most the Phantoms have scored in back-to-back games since Nov. 1-2.

Hey, it's something, right?

Attendance report

Through Thursday, the Phantoms' average home attendance was 3,953, 15th best in the 29-team AHL.

Not too shabby, especially considering that number will get a boost Saturday night when a standing-room-only crowd is expected at the Civic Center against Albany.

It's become a strong home-ice advantage. Through Thursday, the Phantoms are 6-3-1-0 at home and 3-7-0-0 on the road.

Of the five New York state teams, only Syracuse (4,696) has had better attendance. Rochester is 17th in the league with an average of 3,586, despite being one of the league's best teams.

Tim McManus covers the Phantoms for The Post-Star. He may be reached at tmcmanus@poststar.com.

(2) comments




If Daavettila can get 3 games at center on the top two lines, he will make an impact. Tough to produce when you log 5 minutes a game on the 4th line.

Put him with some wingers who can move the puck,skate and you will see what he can do. I guarantee you they will start winning more consistantly when he starts playing more. This kid can play. I am telling you, he can really play. A lot of guys skate like a chicken with their heads cut off and get nothing done. He doesn't. He's smooth,fun to watch and will produce.

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