(Courtesy of Rob Henderson, Brandon Sun) -- Throughout the Brandon Wheat Kings’ slump in December and January, one common thread was the Western Hockey League club’s inability to get consistent goaltending.
The return of a healthy Corbin Boes could be the solution they’re looking for.
Late last month, the 18-year-old from Saskatoon returned from a seven-week absence due to a broken hand and was promptly shelled by the Calgary Hitmen in his first game back. But since then, Boes has looked more like the goaltender that showed so much promise early in the season, posting a 2.74 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in his last four appearances.
"Obviously, the first game in Calgary definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to," Boes said. "But I think since then it’s been fairly consistent and hopefully I can just keep it going here through the stretch run into playoffs."
Boes’ most recent efforts were a 35-save performance in the Wheat Kings’ 3-2 road win over the Regina Pats on Wednesday and a 28-save night against Swift Current on Friday. Friday's win over the Broncos gave the Wheat Kings a 3-game win streak and head coach Cory Clouston said seeing his veteran netminders put together back-to-back strong starts is a promising sign.
"There’s no coincidence that when Corbin got hurt, Andy was, I don’t want to say thrown to the wolves, but there was no relief for him," said Clouston, whose team had to use a series of emergency callups to back up Anderson until rookie Curtis Honey was added as a third goaltender after Christmas. "If things had gone a little bit wrong, there wasn’t a situation where we could just take him out of the net for a game or two. It was a tough situation for him. … I look at a similar situation to Brian Elliott with me last year in Ottawa, look at how much better he’s able to play this year (becoming an all-star in St. Louis), knowing that he’s got support with (Jaroslav) Halak. It’s just a very different scenario when you know that the weight of the world isn’t on your shoulders. That’s why every team in the NHL and every team at our level needs a good, solid backup or a real good 1-2 combination."
Clouston said in addition to regaining game conditioning and timing, one of the challenges goalies face after a layoff is being able to keep their focus intact for a full 60 minutes.
Boes’ focus was tested after falling behind the Pats early, but he was pleased with the way he and the rest of the team handled the situation.
"We’ve had a couple two-goal deficits to overcome here the last two games and we’ve managed to do that and find ways to win, which is obviously very positive signs for our team," he said. "Going forward, hopefully we can get those leads early and just shut ’em down from there."
ONE-TIMERS: Brandon LW Dominick Favreau, who returned from a shoulder injury on Wednesday only to leave late in the first period with what the team is calling an upper-body injury, missed Fridays game, as did D Dylan Kuczek, who is down with the flu. C Paul Ciarelli (upper body) and C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) also remain sidelined.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 10, 2012