Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We'll be contenders: Pavelec

Making playoffs is young team's focus

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ONDREJ Pavelec had only been in town a few hours when he made his intentions very clear for this season with the Winnipeg Jets.

"Absolutely, we can make the playoffs. We're a young team but we're a year older and we have more experience," said Pavelec, who went 21-23-9 in goal for the Atlanta Thrashers last season.

"We lost eight in a row at one stretch and any team that does that won't make the playoffs. But if we don't lose those games we make the playoffs and that has to be our focus this season."

Pavelec and defenceman Zach Bogosian were the latest Jets to report to Winnipeg with defenceman Dustin Byfuglien the lone big name not in town at this point.

The rookies and prospects are in Penticton this week for a Young Stars tournament and main camp opens in Winnipeg on Saturday.

Pavelec says he's ready for lots of action.

"I want to play every game. Every player does," said the 24-year-old Czech. "But it's a team game and I want what is best for the team."

Watching his team move from Atlanta to Winnipeg from afar kept Pavelec glued to the Internet this summer.

"Absolutely. This is your team and your job. I have one year left on my contract so of course you want to know where you're going to play," said Pavelec. "Right after the season we had some direction that this might happen so we just waited and it did happen. Now we're here and going to enjoy being with a new team."

The change in address is a positive for Pavelec.

"It's Canada. I played two years of junior in Canada and I told people it would be crazy here but I didn't realize it would be this crazy," he said."

For many of the Jets this is their first experience in Winnipeg but Pavelec knows the city from his time in the AHL.

"I played here a couple of times with the Chicago Wolves. It's freezing here and bad weather, but we're here for hockey," he said. "Atlanta was a nice city but the hockey market wasn't that good. It's awesome here and it's great to be here. The city will love the hockey and the building will be sold out every night. That's huge."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2011 D1

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