Filling the net not a concern for Ice ‘We’ll see how ready they are,’ Patrick says of trio vying to backup injured starter
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/09/2022 (207 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The biggest news emerging from Winnipeg Ice training camp had nothing to do with the quality of NHL draft picks on display or the promise of incoming rookie talent for the 2022-23 season.
Instead, the health of No. 1 goaltender Daniel Hauser came sharply into focus.
The 18-year-old Chestermere, Alta., product, who turned a sensational sophomore season into first-team all-star honours in the WHL’s East Division, arrived in Winnipeg last week in the midst of rehabbing a broken ankle.
Hauser is reportedly walking but did not participate in last week’s camp nor Monday’s showcase game. He had a sparkling 34-3-1 record, 2.00 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 40 games with the Ice in 2021-22.
Hauser’s readiness for the start of the regular season could be in doubt and the Ice were not revealing anything further about his off-season injury.
“Not overly (worried),” said Ice head coach James Patrick Tuesday afternoon. “I mean, until he’s on the ice and he’s not on the ice yet — it always takes a while. We’ve got three other goalies in camp and we’ll also find out how ready they are.”
With an off-season trade sending 20-year-old veteran Gage Alexander to the Swift Current Broncos, the Winnipeg’s remaining three goaltenders — Noah Stenvig, Dawson Cowan and Keegan Maddocks — have a combined six games of WHL experience.
While Hauser’s status is cause for concern, Patrick expects to have a plethora of outstanding veteran players at his disposal this season.
In fact, the club’s 20-year-old situation would be the envy of most WHL teams with forwards Connor McClennon, Owen Pederson and Mikey Milne, who turns 20 later this month, and defenceman Ben Zloty potentially available to fill the three overage spots.
Milne’s situation is the most interesting. He was chosen in the third round of the most recent NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild after scoring 81 points in 68 regular-season games but remains unsigned. With a pro contract, he would be destined to play in Minnesota’s farm system.
Meanwhile, Pederson, McClennon and Zloty are free agents and more likely to return to the WHL after attending NHL camps later this month.
What are the chances of Milne signing a contract with the Wild?
“There hasn’t been much talk right now — just come to camp ready to work and give them a reason to not send me home,” said Milne, who leaves Sunday for St. Paul, Minn. “So that’s what I’m looking to do…
“I felt like I got a lot stronger this summer, so just going into this year with confidence and bringing my work ethic with it and hopefully that’s all it takes.”
“I felt like I got a lot stronger this summer, so just going into this year with confidence and bringing my work ethic with it and hopefully that’s all it takes.” – Mikey Milne
Patrick must be content to watch the process unfold.
“It’s going to play itself out,” said Patrick. “You can really see the confidence that (Milne) has from getting drafted and going to a development camp with NHL players and just the summer of training that he’s had. He’s really got a good step and he’s always been a good skater. He’s just really standing out for me right now.
“When it’s all said and done, I don’t know that we’ll have four (overage) guys after NHL training camps.”
While Milne is already an established WHL star, sophomore forward Evan Friesen is hoping for a breakout season in 2022-23.
Friesen, 18, had four goals and six points in 46 games as a rookie.
“You can really see how strong he is,” said Patrick. “I think it was a really good learning experience for him last year — playing at times a depth role but could always move up the lineup. He’s a player who earned the coaches’ trust and knows our system real well.”
”He’s (Evan Friesen) a player who earned the coaches’ trust and knows our system real well.” – Ice head coach James Patrick
Friesen plans to have a more prominent role this fall.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the best situation to be in (last season) but I never sat and put my head down and pouted about it,” said Friesen. “I cheered on my teammates and when I got called upon to go out there and do it and I went out and worked my hardest and tried to make an impression.”
“I want to make an impression with (Patrick) and all the coaches that hopefully move my way up the lineup and maybe get bigger minutes,” said Friesen.
Winnipeg opens its pre-season schedule in Brandon Friday before playing the Wheat Kings again Saturday night at the Rink Training Centre. Wayne Fleming Arena, the club’s usual home rink, is unavailable with renovations to the building’s heating and cooling system underway.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
ICE PRE-SEASON ROSTER
Winnipeg’s 34-player roster heading into pre-season games against Brandon on Friday and Saturday:
Goaltenders (4): Noah Stenvig; Dawson Cowan; Daniel Hauser; Keegan Maddocks
Defencemen (11): Josh Mettimano; Omen Harmacy; x-Ben Zloty; Jaren Brinson; Ashton Cumby; Carson Lambos; Jonas Woo; y-Maximilian Streule; Chase Bambrick; Kyle Marsden; Owen Boucher
Forwards (19): Zach Benson; Evan Friesen; Skyler Bruce; Briley Wood; Oscar Lovsin; y-Alessandro Segafredo; x-Owen Pederson; Aiden Oiring; Connor Dale; x-Mikey Milne; Ty Fraser; Hayden Moore; Conor Geekie; Josh Medernach; Miles Cooper; Ashton Brown; Daniel Morozov; Matthew Savoie; x-Connor McClennon.
x-denotes overage player; y-denotes import player