The morning after the U.S. beat Canada to win gold on the IIHF World Juniors in January, Jason Labarbera needed to get to Calgary to start out his new job because the Flames’ new goaltending coach.
It was a job he’d been working already for the Canadian junior crew, and there was understandably some disappointment at falling wanting gold.
Within the passenger seat for LaBarbera’s drive from Edmonton to Calgary, although, was younger Flames goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf, who occurred to be on prime of the world after profitable the last word prize on the event with the American crew.
“He wore his gold medal the entire trip again,” LaBarbera mentioned with fun. “The dynamic was just a little humorous, simply within the sense that they beat us within the closing. He’s 19 — from his perspective, you’re clearly tremendous excited since you simply received a gold medal on the world juniors. For me, clearly, not so excited.”
LaBarbera had no arduous emotions in direction of Wolf for revelling in a second that solely comes round once-in-a-lifetime for even the rarest of hockey skills.
This has been a yr of huge moments for Wolf.
He made his skilled debut final month, for instance. The delay to the WHL season meant Wolf had the possibility to make three begins for the AHL’s Stockton Warmth. He received two, posting a .954 save share in these video games.
The WHL’s restart meant he needed to return to the Everett Silvertips after that, although. We’ll get to his astounding begin to the junior season in a second, however LaBarbera mentioned that even making the transfer from professional again to junior is extra spectacular than extra individuals may notice.
“He’s had a heck of a profession in Everett, and to have the ability to return and construct off the little little bit of time he had right here (with the Warmth), that’s fairly good,” LaBarbera mentioned. “It’s not simple doing that if you’ve had some success on the professional degree, to return to junior. To do this is a fairly good testomony to him.
“To get these few video games in with the Warmth after which to have to return to junior, that’s a tricky one. It’s just a little bit slower, the execution degree isn’t as excessive, the talent degree’s not as excessive. To make that adjustment each methods is fairly good.”
Wolf hasn’t simply adjusted to the junior recreation. He’s thrived.
Wolf entered the season six shutouts again of the WHL’s all-time report. In a traditional yr, which may have appeared achievable. With the Silvertips enjoying solely a 24-game schedule, although, it seemed fairly not possible.
Nicely, possibly not.
Wolf began off his WHL marketing campaign with three straight shutouts, and whereas he did enable a objective in Friday evening’s 2-0 extra time win over the Portland Winterhawks, Wolf set a franchise report for longest time in internet with out permitting a objective, going 216 minutes and 27 seconds.
Now, he wants three extra shutouts to equal the WHL report. What as soon as appeared not possible now appears completely doable.
“Clearly, it will be superior to have the ability to do this,” Wolf mentioned. “
However in a shortened season, it’s simply my job to go on the market and cease as many pucks as I can. If it finally ends up understanding, nice. If not, I imply, that’s the best way issues go. So simply go on the market and provides my crew an opportunity to win every evening and take it day-to-day and see what occurs.”
Whether or not Wolf breaks the WHL report or not, it’s been a memorable yr for the Flames’ seventh spherical choose within the 2019 NHL Draft.
A gold medal on the World Juniors is a fairly good begin to 2021. Posting shutouts in three straight video games to start out the WHL season is a good way to maintain the nice occasions going. Profitable your first recreation as a professional goaltender isn’t dangerous, both.
“His skating potential is elite,” LaBarbera mentioned. “He provides himself an opportunity to make saves due to his skating. For a smaller man, he’s affected person, he doesn’t take himself out of place. His persistence permits him to make saves — he isn’t a type of guys who slides round and takes himself out of place. He’s bought a fairly good base, a superb construction to his recreation and he’s capable of learn the play effectively, clearly, and monitor pucks effectively.”
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