‘The Wall’ lives up to his billing

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens -

While he is small in stature, Grif­fin Fitz­patrick has earned the nick­name “The Wall” for his per­for­mance be­tween the pipes.

The nine-year-old atom goalie from Alexan­dria played his first in­ter­na­tional con­test last week af­ter he was cho­sen as the only net­min­der for the North Amer­i­can CanAm Crunch.

“I’m very ex­cited,” said Grif­fin, even though he ad­mit­ted that he was un­der pres­sure since he would play­ing with­out a back-up.

Grif­fin’s fa­ther, David, re­lated that Toron­to­nian Bill San­di­ford, who had formed the squad, was con­fi­dent no num­ber 2 would be re­quired. “All my chips are on this guy,” said San­di­ford, who flew in skaters from all across the United States to bol­ster the North Amer­i­can team in the Kronor Cup.

His faith in Grif­fin was jus­ti­fied as he back­stopped the Crunch to six straight wins to take the in­ter­na­tional ti­tle over squads from Swe­den, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Toronto.

In the 8-3 fi­nal win over Swe­den, Grif­fin out­lasted three goalies from the op­pos­ing side, which iced a much larger and older team than the Crunch. “He kept his cool; I was the ner­vous one,” re­marks David Fitz­patrick.

Ian In­skip, of L’Orig­nal, was also cho­sen for the Crunch.

“Al­though some ex­tremely tal­ented play­ers broke through their strong de­fence In­skip was vi­tal to set­ting up and as­sist­ing goals,” re­lates David Fitz­patrick.

Ian, a left winger, is a mem­ber of the Toronto Pro Brick team.

For the young­sters, “It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and one they will never for­get.” Grif­fin was scouted be­cause of his record with the Glens atom B squad, earn­ing the Most Valu­able Player award last sea­son as the team went from be­ing sixth in the reg­u­lar sea­son to win­ning the B cham­pi­onship. He faced an in­cred­i­ble 1,100 shots dur­ing the last cam­paign.

“Coaches are as­tounded by the saves he makes,” says his proud fa­ther.

“He has a phe­nom­e­nal but­ter­fly,” per­fect­ing a post-to-post slide that con­founds shoot­ers, many of whom are two or three years older than him.

Fitz­patrick at­tributes his son’s elite sta­tus to his work ethic. Grif­fin has been train­ing year-round for the past three years. He is never sick, he never misses a game or a prac­tice.

Grif­fin is fol­low­ing a fam­ily tra­di­tion. While his fa­ther was a for­ward when he was in the army, his grand­fa­ther was a goal­tender in his na­tive Bay Roberts, New­found­land.

Start your kart en­gines MEGGIN ROBERTS PHOTO

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