They were roommates once, but that was yesteryear. Tonight, from opposite ends of the rink, Byron Dafoe and Olaf Kolzig will compete against each other.
Dafoe will be in the goal for the Skipjacks when they oppose the Rochester Americans in the first of three weekend road games. Baltimore will visit the Capital District Islanders tomorrow night and the Hamilton Canucks Sunday evening.
Kolzig, like Dafoe a member of the parent Washington Capitals organization, is on loan to Rochester and will be in the Americans' goal.
"It'll be just like any other game as far as how the organization regards us," Dafoe said. "But there is personal incentive for me to do better."
Dafoe, 21, was born in England and Kolzig, 22, was born in South Africa, but since then they have followed similar paths. They both grew up in western Canada and played against each other in junior hockey.
"We're the best of friends," Dafoe said, "but we're also competitors."
In the 1989 National Hockey League draft, Kolzig was the Capitals' first choice. To the Caps' surprise, Dafoe was available on the second round, so they snatched him.
"You seldom see that, a team picking goalies in the first two rounds," Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said. "But it turned out to be a blessing, because goaltending is one of the Caps' strengths."
The Capitals sent Dafoe and Kolzig to their Canadian junior clubs for several seasons, where once again they faced each other. Last season, both played for the Skipjacks, although the club occasionally had to send one out on loan so they could get enough work. "Byron and Olaf needed, and still need, lots of AHL games -- 50 or 60 apiece a year," Trotz said. "We play an 80-game schedule, so it's impossible for both to get 60 games with us."
Although they weren't always in Baltimore together last season, Dafoe and Kolzig shared an apartment here. "It was a lot of fun," Dafoe said. "If one of us had a bad game, he'd get some ribbing. But that calmed us down."
Apart again for now, the goalies may benefit from that, too, in Trotz's estimation. "It's for the best," he said. "It would be tough, all season long, living in the same apartment, one playing and the other not."
Each is trying to prove he is the one most deserving to be summoned to Washington if either of the Caps' goalies, Don Beaupre or Jim Hrivnak, falters or gets hurt.
Dafoe is the AHL leader in saves with 92 in three games and sixth in goals allowed with 2.92 a game. In two games, Kolzig has 57 saves and a 4.54 goals-against average.
Opponent: Rochester Americans
Site: War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, N.Y., 7:35
Outlook: The Skipjacks are atop the AHL Southern Division with a 2-0-1 record. Rochester is fourth at 1-1-0. The teams tied in last season's series, 3-3-2. Rochester's top scorer is Chris Snell, with six assists, and Mike McLaughlin has a goal and four assists. WBAL radio will air game updates tonight at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30.