Maier lands goalie job full time

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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.

Nolan Maier

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