CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Monday the names of the five netminders who have been selected finalists for the CJHL’s Top Goaltender Award in 2018-19.
Each of the nominees were determined, following a voting process completed by each of the CJHL’s 10-member leagues, for their respective efforts during the course of the regular season.
The following are the five nominees for CJHL Top Goaltender honours, which are listed alphabetically, by league.
Jack LaFontaine (G), Penticton Vees (BCHL)
The Mississauga, Ont. native was a workhorse for the Vees in Penticton during the 2018-19 campaign, appearing in 45 of his team’s 58 games. … Lafontaine finished second in the BCHL in most major goaltending categories, including save percentage with a mark of .923; goals-against average at 2.19 and wins with 30. … He also added three shutouts. … LaFontaine, 21, had his best stretch of the season from Jan. 6 to Feb. 1 where he won eight straight starts, giving up more than two goals on only three occasions. … He also recorded back-to-back shutouts on Sept. 29 and Oct. 5 in a pair of victories over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the Vernon Vipers. …. Lafontaine was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and is committed to attend school at the University of Minnesota next season where he’ll suit up for the Gophers hockey program, who compete out of the Big 10 conference in the NCAA.
With files from: Jesse Adamson, Communications Coordinator (BCHL)
Liam Souliere (G), Brockville Braves (CCHL)
The 1999-born Blainville, Que., product sported an impressive 26-8-1 record with Brockville in 2018-19. … Souliere led all CCHL goalkeepers in save percentage with a solid .930 mark. … He also ended up second overall in the league in goals-against average at 2.13. … His efforts between the pipes for Brockville sent him on his way to being named the CCHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award recipient. … Souliere’s contributions also aided in his club finishing second overall in the CCHL’s Robinson Division standings with an impressive 41-16-3-2 record. … Their 87 points also placed them third-best in the 12-team CCHL. … The 20-year-old netminder is committed to Penn State University of the Big 10 in the NCAA D-I ranks. … Souliere also represented the CCHL with Team Canada East at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge in December in Bonnyville, Alta. … GP 37 – W 26 – L 8 – GAA 2.13 – SV% .930 – SO 2.
With files from: Sean Marcellus, Director of Hockey Operations (CCHL)
Jett Alexander, (G) North York Rangers (OJHL)
The North York Rangers netminder led the 22-team OJHL with a tremendous 1.67 goals-against average along with an equally stellar .945 save percentage. … Alexander’s league-best 30 wins, included 10 shutouts, which broke an OJHL record that dated back all the way to the early 1970s. … On top of winning the OJHL goaltending statistical award, Alexander was voted OJHL netminder of the year. … He was on the NHL Watch List last season, played at the World Jr. A Challenge and was named an OHA Top Prospect. … His efforts helped North York remain in the CJHL Top 10 all season long. His contributions helped North York finish second overall in the 22-team OJHL standings. … Alexander was slected the OJHL Kewl Goaltender-of-the-Month and the CJHL’s first star of the month in October. … “He continues to tap into his potential each year and has developed into one of the best goalies in our league,” said Rangers Head Coach Geoff Schomogyi.
With files from: Jim Mason, Director of Communications (OJHL)
Justen Close, (G) Kindersley Klippers (SJHL)
The 1998-born Kindersley product shared SJHL’s netminding award with Nipawin’s Declan Hobbs a year ago and just narrowly edged Hobbs this time to make it two years in a row he’s had his name engraved on the plaque. … Close had three shutouts and had nine other games in which he allowed just one goal. … Allowed more than three goals in a game only four times in 38 appearances. … “He’s so athletic,” said Klippers coach Clayton Jardine. “He has a great mindset and never gets rattled. … Close has committed to the attend the University of Minnesota of the Big 10 Conference on NCAA Division I scholarship. … He is the first known Saskatchewan-born and trained player to be recruited by the Golden Gophers program in recent memory, perhaps ever. … In fact, only four other Canadian players have played with the Gophers in the past 35 years. … On the season Close posted a 25-11-2 record. … His 2.19 goal-against average was third-best in the 16-team SJHL. … He was also third overall in save percentage at .928 while manning the nets for the Klippers and tied for second in the league with his trio of shutouts.
With files from: Mike Stackhouse, Communications (SJHL)
Brock Aiken (G), Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL)
The 20-year-old Thunder Bay native led all SIJHL netminders in goals-against average (2.12), save percentage (.931) and shutouts (8) during the course of the campaign. … His overall efforts saw him post an impressive 23-2-1-0 record. … Of note, Aiken’s league-best eight shutouts in 2018-19 were just two off the SIJHL single-season record of 10 set by another Top Goaltender Award honouree, in current Buffalo Sabres netminder Carter Hutton, who back during the 2005-06 season helped lead the North Stars to a Bill Salonen Cup crown, a Dudley-Hewitt Cup title and a semifinal berth at the Canadian National Jr. A Championship. … Aiken was named to participate in the 2018-19 SIJHL All-Star Game. … He was also slected a SIJHL 1st Team All-Star in goal. … Aiken had 16 starts during the campaign where he allowed two or fewer goals.
Earning honourable mention for the CJHL Top Goaltender Award in 2018-19 were the following:
Luke Lush, Drayton Valley Thunder (AJHL)
Samuel Gagnon, Cobras de Terrebone (LHJAAAQ)
Dominek Tmej, Summerside Western Capitals (MHL)
Jeremy Link, Winnipeg Blues (MJHL)
Nicholas Tallarico, Hearst Lumberjacks (NOJHL)
Aiken photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com