CLEVELAND — He’s seen quite enough losing for one season, so if you think Colorado Avalanche prospect Ryan Stoa is unhappy about being assigned back to the Lake Erie Monsters for the playoffs, you’d be wrong.
"We went through a pretty bad stretch up there so every game was pretty important to keep battling and try to dig out of the hole," Stoa said after today’s Monsters practice at the suburban Hoover Arena.
"That was very difficult. Being a competitor, you want to win games and you lose 16, 17 in a row and win one, then lose 10 in a row — the game’s supposed to be fun but that’s not any fun."
The Monsters and Manitoba Moose meet at Quicken Loans Arena at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday to start the best-of-seven AHL first-round series.
The awful Avalanche missed the playoffs by a wide margin, so the 24-year-old from Minnesota, Colorado’s second pick in the 2005 draft pick, is actually happy to be back in a successful environment after playing 25 NHL games, most of them late in the season season.
"Exactly. You want to make the playoffs in the NHL, but I played 50 games down here so I feel like I belong on this team," Stoa said. "It’s nice to be back with your family, so to speak, and I know the guys in here are ready to go."
And Stoa said he won’t have any trouble getting motivated for a game that’s not an NHL game.
"It’s definitely more difficult going up," he said. "When you come down, you feel like you’ve got a lot of confidence in yourself."