Blazers Young Goaltenders Give OKC Strong Start
The Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers have begun their 2017-18 Western States Hockey League campaign with an undefeated start. While the team hasn’t faced off against the upper levels of the standings so far, the feat could not have been completed without the likes of their two young goaltenders in Bobby Cloutier and Patrick Wiens.
In the past, Oklahoma City has recruited for goaltenders that are playing in either their last season of eligibility, or in the case of Drennen Atherton last season, their next to last season. With both Cloutier and Wiens, head coach Gary Gill has opted for some younger names, with both tenders being born in 1999.
While some may look at that as a gamble, it has certainly paid off so far. Heading into their weekend series against the Dallas Snipers, both goalies were sitting in the top-10 of the league in Goals Against Average, both with a 1.40 or better.
So far, this season, both players have combined for three shutouts of their opponents, Wiens picking up a pair and Cloutier with one.
As Oklahoma City enters the week of Thanksgiving, their goaltending has put the team in a strong position to start the season. In the weeks following, the competition is going to be much stiffer, and will be a strong test for the young goaltenders.
With the Western States Shootout coming, the Blazers will have played for six straight weeks as they head into Vegas, a tough task to ask of any team. To add six games against the Springfield Express, three against the EL Paso Rhinos, and then to face the top teams at the Shootout, both goaltenders will get ample time to show the league what they are made of.
Story by Eric Rodgers, WSHL Midwest Division correspondent. You can find Eric on Twitter, @ericrsports