With Ontario’s top young goaltending prospects in attendance, the 2016 OHL Gold Cup offered scouts, general managers and the brain trust of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence a glimpse of the country’s future in the crease.
The ongoing effort to develop goaltending talent across Canada has been a discussion point at various levels of the sport for some time. The OHL Gold Cup provides a platform for Hockey Canada’s goaltending minds to get familiarized with prospects following the OHL Priority Selection as they prepare to make the jump to the next level.
The mostly 15-year-old netminders enter a key point in their development as they make the transition from minor hockey to the junior ranks.
“For myself this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see some of these guys,” said Hockey Canada goaltending consultant Fred Brathwaite, a former OHL goaltender who played nine NHL seasons. “You’re obviously looking for a guy who is consistent and stops the puck, but you’re also getting a glimpse of how these guys carry themselves in the net. Goaltenders come in all shapes and sizes, but what you’re looking for early on is their composure and competitiveness.”
As the young goaltenders go their separate ways following the OHL Gold Cup, some will make the jump to the OHL while others will see valuable playing time at a lower level, affording them more time to get accustomed to the pace of junior hockey.
Regardless, the recently drafted goaltenders competing in Kitchener this past week relished the opportunity to take the spotlight in a full 60-minute game.
“The past few months have been very exciting and being drafted to the OHL was what I looked forward to ever since I was small,” said Team NOHA goaltender Cameron Lamour, a third round pick of the Saginaw Spirit last month. “I don’t feel as much pressure playing here as I did at the OHL Cup. This is a great opportunity to show what I can do.”
“These guys are watching and preparing for the Under-17 Camp, and this is where you want to be consistent and make a good first impression,” added Oshawa Generals prospect Nathan Torchia, who made 47 saves in a win on Friday. “It would mean everything to be at that camp.”
Hockey Canada’s approach to monitoring the development of goaltenders from coast-to-coast requires a few different sets of eyes.
“I myself get out to see quite a bit, but we have our regional scouts seeing these guys regularly throughout the year,” added Brathwaite. “We want to see the best from Ontario but we also want to see what other regions have to offer so that we can compare. Our regional scouts are required to visit other regions to evaluate the talent there. If you stayed in one region all year you wouldn’t have much to compare against, so it’s good to get different viewpoints.”
A total of 31 goaltenders were selected in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, 25 of whom are Canadian.
Standout goaltending performances at the 2016 OHL Gold Cup included championship game MVP Hunter Jones (PBO) who finished the tournament with a 3-0 record, registering a 2.33 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Team OMHA Black goaltender Blair Coffin (SAR), a 6’5″ native of Dunnville, ON, led all netminders with a 0.81 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage.
In the OHL Gold Cup’s four year history, the event has included the likes of Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack), draft eligible netminders in Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes) and Joseph Raaymakers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) as well as 2016 F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy recipient Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires).
For statistics and information on the 2016 OHL Gold Cup, please visit ohlgoldcup.pointstreaksites.com.