Netminders save Raiders' weekend
Goalies back-stop midget AAA team to three out of four points
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 06:00 am
The last line of defence for the St. Albert Raiders stopped 68 out of 70 shots in last weekend’s season opener in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
Pat Gora drew the start in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Leduc Oil Kings at Akinsdale Arena and Pat Dea was between the pipes in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the KC Pats at Bill Hunter Arena.
Gora, 17, was under the gun while facing a game-high 33 shots.
“Patty stood on his head,” Dea said of his netminding partner.
In the third period Gora faced 15 shots and allowed an even-strength goal by Tanner Younghans with 13 minutes to play.
“I felt good out there,” Gora said. “It was tough and I got a lot of shots but as a team we pulled out one point so it’s good.”
Raiders’ defenceman Nicholas Sutter opened the scoring early in the third. Jason Miller and Ethan Lazaro picked up assists.
The Raiders were outshot 10-4 in the opening period and finished the game with 26 shots.
The next game Dea surrendered an unassisted marker by Alex Rotundo at even strength four minutes into the middle stanza.
The Raiders replied in the third on goals by defenceman Brendan Kallis with 8:11 remaining, forward Matt Havens with 6:32 to play and Connor Lukan’s empty-net tally to finish with 37 shots. Taylor Lotoski and Parker Aucoin added assists in the win.
“We played well and obviously we got the win, which is huge,” said Dea, who turned aside 26 shots after two periods. “I really didn't have to do too much work. The guys cleared away all the second and third chances so a lot of the success should be credited to the whole team.”
Dea, 16, believes the Raiders are in good shape after their successful weekend performance.
“If we keep going the way we’re doing we’re going to do pretty good this season,” he said.
The strength of the Raiders is their back end.
“Our defence is great and our goaltending is great,” Gora said. “Our offence is getting there, we’ve just got to learn our systems and then we’re good to go.”
The Grade 12 St. Albert Catholic High School student is back with the Raiders after tryouts with the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey league and Whitecourt Wolverines in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
He joins forwards Miller and Harrison Klein as the only returning Raiders from the team’s second-place 19-9-6 finish in the north as division semifinalists.
“I’ve got to be a leader this year,” Gora said. “Obviously your goal is to win playoffs and go to the Telus Cup and every game and every practice you've got to prepare for that.”
Last season Gora ranked fourth in GAA at 2.05 while going 7-3-4 with one shutout and .908 save percentage splitting time with Mitch Martell.
“I thought overall it was good and obviously I want to have a better season and continue that,” said Gora, who worked on improving his rebound control in the summer.
The most promising newcomer is Dea, the last cut of the Edmonton Oil Kings as the WHL team opted to keep 19-year-old Tyler Santos as its backup.
“It’s disappointing but Tyler is a very good goalie and credit to him; he played very well during the pre-season,” Dea said. “Obviously it’s not the way I wanted to go but I think it will be best for my development.”
The Oil Kings selected Dea with the 22nd overall pick as the first puck stopper taken in the 2012 WHL bantam draft.
“The team and the organization are first class. They treat you like a professional and they kind of show you the way as to how to become a pro and I feel it really helped me a lot with my experience and things to work on for next year. Hopefully I can go back and crack the squad but I’m just going to bring everything I learned back to this team and hopefully we go all the way to the Telus Cup,” said Dea.
The Grade 11 St. Albert High student is happy to play for the same hometown team as his brother, Tyler, a first-team all-star defenceman last season who is now in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders.
“Growing up in St. Albert I’ve always watched the midget AAA team and to be a part of the team this year will be exciting and I’m really looking forward to it,” Dea said.
Last season with the St. Albert Flyers he was honoured as the Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League’s most valuable player after positing a 13-5-2 record with a league-best 1.72 GAA, five shutouts and .946 save percentage in 1,189 minutes.
“I owe a lot of it to my teammates on the Flyers and hopefully I can have the same continued success this year,” Dea said. “The guys really helped me out the whole year and I didn't really have to do too much work.”
To make the jump to the next level Dea will have to pack more muscle on his skinny frame. On a good day he stands a hair shy of five-foot-11 and weighs 168 pounds soaking wet.
“I’ve got to work on my strength a little bit to get better,” he said.
The Raiders skate Saturday in Leduc and Sunday they host the Calgary Flames. Game times are 1:15 p.m.