I have always been partial to goalies.
It may have something to with the fact that during my road hockey career, which began circa 1957 in Sault Ste. Marie when I was a mere 5-year old, I was always the goalie.
Much later, when my son, Bobby, began playing hockey, he was also a goalie. Bobby is 27-years old now and a Law Student at the University of Windsor, but I still have vivid memories of him playing goal for the 49th Gunners as a little kid and earning a number of game-star awards for his puck-stopping prowess.
At any rate, I'm still drawn to goalies.
My investment advisor is Kevin Hodson, who during his spectacular goaltending career won a Memorial Cup with the Soo Greyhounds and earned two Stanley Cup rings with the Detroit Red Wings.
One of my favourite junior hockey coaches is Bruno Bragagnolo of the Soo Eagles, who used to be a goalie during his playing days.
Then there's Joe Shawhan, who is the assistant coach with the Division 1, Northern Michigan University Wildcats. Joe is another one of my favourite hockey people and -- you guessed it -- he's a former goalie.
I watch a lot of hockey and I always pay close attention to the goalies. And there are a number of junior goalies who I have watched play during this 2011-12 season that should move higher up the ladder.
The obvious one is 1994 birth year Jake Paterson, who backstopped the Soo Eagles to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship as a 16-year old last season. Paterson is now in the Ontario Hockey League as a 17-year old and has been simply sensational in leading the Saginaw Spirit into the second round of the playoffs. Look for Paterson to be an early-round pick at this year's National Hockey League Draft.
Then there are a pair of 1991 birth date tenders who should appear somewhere within the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks next season in John Kleinhans and Luis Puig. Kleinhans has the Soo Thunderbirds in the NOJHL championship series while Puig is coming off a season with the Soo Eagles in which he got better and better.
Puig is one of those goalies who works as hard in practice as he does during the game and who his coaches refer to as "a student of the game." Puig is also a good kid, a supportive teammate and I can see him getting into coaching when his playing days are done.
Chris Truehl, a 1993 birth year and Puig's partner with the NOJHL Eagles this season, is another good kid who I think is going places. Lanky, agile and quick as a cat, Truehl just looks like a goalie. Truehl, who will play somewhere in the North American Hockey League next season -- most likely with the Soo Eagles, who are making the move there -- is not only a top goalie but a top student with a 4.00 grade point average that tops his 2011-12 goals against average of 3.31.
As for the NAHL, there are a pair of younger goalies from the North Division who I started to watch late in the season: Trevor Gorsuch of the Michigan Warriors and Max Milosek of the Port Huron Fighting Falcons. Gorsuch is a 1994 birth year and looks to have D1 written all over him and Milosek, who was born in 1993, is one focused Falcon.
Another goalie to keep an eye on is a real youngster in Ken Appleby, a 1995 birth year who underwent a baptism of fire in the NOJHL this season with the expansion Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. Appleby was a second round OHL draft pick of the Oshawa Generals in 2011 and has probably seen the last of the NOJHL.