Maier lands goalie job full time
Nolan Maier got the call-up once again, but this time, he’s been told it’s not on a temporary basis.
The 16-year-old goalie has rejoined the Saskatoon Blades in a “full-time” capacity while Joel Grzybowski has been re-assigned to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Battlefords North Stars.
“Ever since I was drafted, this has been my main goal,” Maier said at practice on Tuesday.
“I finally feel I’m where I want to be and I feel at home.”
Maier was playing for his hometown Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He’s fresh off a stint with Team Canada Black at the recent World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in northern British Columbia.
“It was huge, being able to play there and play pretty well,” said Maier, who will back up veteran Ryan Kubic with the Blades.
“I gained a lot of confidence and I hope to bring it here.
“I’m going to try and be a sponge and learn everything I can from him (Kubic). I’ve been talking to him and Chevy (goalie coach Tim Cheveldae) a lot and I feel really good about it.”
Team Canada Black got knocked out in the quarter-finals by the eventual tournament champs from the United States. Maier posted the best save percentage of all goalies with three or more starts at .917.
“You certainly can’t argue with (adding) him,” said Blades head coach Dean Brockman, whose team plays host to the Moose Jaw Warriors in WHL action tonight (7:05 p.m., SaskTel Centre).
“He’s legit. He’s a big kid. He works hard at the game. He certainly understands. He always wants to get better.
“It’s really exciting, I don’t think we’ve seen a goalie here like this for quite some time. And, really, I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on him, but he’s got a bright future.”
The goaltending switch, Brockman adds, has everything to do with the timing of it all — that it’s better for Maier to join the Blades now than it was at the beginning of the year.
“However, in saying that,” said Brockman, “Joel did a really good job for us and we certainly want to wish him the best.”
The youngster Maier faced an average of 49.7 shots against per game in seven starts with the SJHL’s Terriers, who can boast only three wins in 21 outings.
“It worked on my mental game, mostly, because I needed to stay positive, and I think I did that. I was playing pretty consistently, even though the stats weren’t going my way,” Maier said.
In other roster moves, the Blades welcomed back forward Kirby Dach from the world U17’s and returned forward Logan Doust to the Vancouver NW Midget AAA Giants.
“Getting Kirby back is huge for us,” Brockman said. “It gives us more depth up front and another big body down the middle, which we like. It’s good. We’re healthier than we’ve been in quite some time.”
With defenceman Seth Bafaro suspended for four games after being penalized for checking from behind, the Blades have recalled blueliner Randen Schmidt from the Regina Pat Canadians AAA midget squad.