For someone who left Ogdensburg after his junior year in high school, Jimmy Howard certainly has brought a lot of attention to his hometown.
In the last seven years, Ogdensburg has honored Howard twice — once after he led the U.S. Under-18 team to a world championship and once after his Detroit Red Wings team captured the Stanley Cup. In between, Howard has been a record-setting goalie at virtually every stop.
Howard just came up short of adding a second consecutive Stanley Cup to his résumé as the Penguins defeated the Red Wings in the final last week. As a backup goalie to Chris Osgood, Howard, 25, did not play in the Cup finals, just like last season, but he was there with his teammates, practicing and skating just the same.
Howard has played in nine games for Detroit since the team made him the 64th pick overall in the NHL Entry Draft in 2003. He holds a 1-5 mark, 2.76 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 456 minutes of play. He signed a three-year contract with Detroit last summer.
In a true test of his NHL capabilities, Howard became the first goalie in league history to face penalty shots in each of the first two games of his NHL career. He let in the first and stopped the second.
Howard has spent much of his professional career with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, a team that he has played with for four years. He entered the 2008-09 season as second all-time in Grand Rapids history in games played, minutes played, wins, shutouts and saves. He is first in several Grand Rapids playoff categories.
In 2008, Howard was the starting goalie for PlanetUSA in the AHL All-Star Game. The year before he became the first goalie in Grand Rapids history to record back-to-back shutouts. In 2006, he helped lead the Griffins to the regular season title and was named to the AHL all-rookie team. He recorded an 11-0 mark in March of that year.
Howard left for a professional career after three record-setting years at the University of Maine, where he set a school record for shutouts (15), recorded a 1.84 GAA, .931 save percentage and 47-23-10 record. He was the team's MVP as a junior.
During Howard's sophomore year, he made the Hockey East first team and all-tournament team. He stopped 63 shots in a triple-overtime victory over Massachusetts in the conference final in 2004. Maine made it to the NCAA championship before losing 1-0 to Denver. Howard established NCAA tournament single-season records with a 1.19 GAA and .956 save percentage.
As a freshman he made the All-Hockey East rookie team.
Howard led the U.S. Under-18 team to a gold medal in Slovakia in 2002. Before that, he played for various junior teams and in the Empire State Games. He began his career in youth programs at Ogdensburg and the ice rink there is named after him.
To read about previous selections to the Times' list of The North Country's Greatest Athletes of All Time, log on to www.watertowndailytimes.com