BRIDGEPORT -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' departure from contention normally ends Kenny Reiter's interest in baseball, even with the World Series having started Wednesday.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie may have a reason to take a peek the next four to seven games, though. When he played junior hockey in St. Louis in 2006, he lived with the family of Mike Matheny, now the Cardinals' manager.

"He's an unbelievable person. I'm sure he's an unbelievable coach," Reiter said.

"I'm not surprised one bit how successful he's been. He took a businesslike approach to a lot of things."

Reiter, then 19, once lived with the Matheny family when Matheny was suffering from post-concussion symptoms that ended his playing career.

The connection was Matheny's friendship with Kelly Chase, the former St. Louis Blue who owned the junior St. Louis Bandits. The family billeted Reiter on what was supposed to be a temporary basis.

"They liked having me there," Reiter said; he helped build a theater room in the home; they went hunting together. "They offered for me to stay permanently."

Even in junior hockey, though, "permanent" is fleeting. Reiter was traded to a team in Fairbanks, Alaska, that winter.

He played goal for several different junior teams, beginning at 15, and as is typical in junior hockey, he lived with host families.

"You mature pretty quickly," said Reiter, who was helped, he said, by a lot of great host families along the way.

"I felt ready for that step. It depends what kind of person you are. I think in part it's how you're brought up. My family prepared me, and I have a brother (Kevin) who had gone through it."

Reiter's path across the continent got him to Minnesota Duluth. He won the NCAA championship in 2011 as a junior, earned an AHL contract with Bridgeport a year later and re-signed this year.

"He's one of those guys that nothing's ever been given him," Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said. "He has had to battle."

He has battled in some hard luck, still seeking his first AHL win. He made six starts last spring after returning from the ECHL. He allowed only 13 goals, stopping 93 percent of the shots he faced, but he went 0-4-2.

He's 0-2 this year, a 3-1 loss to Springfield and a decision in relief in Sunday's 6-5 overtime loss to Binghamton.

"The team's still finding its identity a little bit," Reiter said. "We have a lot of young guys, but we're gaining experience. If we can start putting together a full 60 minutes every night, if everyone plays his role, I think we're going to have success. Right now we need to learn to win."

DEFENSE NEVER RESTS: The New York Islanders signed veteran defenseman Radek Martinek, with Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) out. Bridgeport defenseman Joe Finley sat out of practice with an upper-body injury.;;