Peter Koutroumpis – firstname.lastname@example.org
RALEIGH, N.C. – You need to have a competitive mentality in order to stop pucks coming in at speeds topping 90-plus miles per hour.
Goaltender Logan Halladay is one of three North Carolina-trained hockey players, joining Josh Wesley and Bryan Moore, who has made an impressive showing at Carolina Hurricanes Prospect Camp which continued into its fourth day at PNC Arena on Thursday.
While Wesley became the first drafted out of North Carolina, the Hurricanes’ fourth-round pick (96th overall) in the recent 2014 NHL Entry Draft, both Halladay and Moore are invitees to this year’s camp as homegrown talents.
Along with Moore who was born in Indian Trail, Halladay, who was born and raised in Cary, is helping to forge the way for other young area players to realize a dream to play professional hockey.
Though not growing up and playing in a hotbed of minor and junior hockey, what the netminder possesses is what all NHL coaches and executives look for in a prospect – the drive to work hard and to excel in his position coupled with the level of talent he has.
Halladay, a soon-to-be 18 year old, closely fits the physical mold of goaltenders sought after for today’s game, playing with a six-foot-two-inch, 190-pound frame.
However, his high-glove crouched stance and aggressive nature to challenge shooters at the top of his crease shows him as more unique than the typical drop-down butterfly-style goalie that many become.
“Over time I just kind of adapted,” Halladay said.
“I take a little bit from each goalie coach who I’ve worked with. I don’t try to model myself after one goalie. I think I’m my own goalie and kind of go with my own style. It’s just kind of what I learned to do…Obviously, I’m not a six-four goalie with a blocking style. My athleticism is an attribute that I try to utilize out there.”
Halladay comes out aggressively from the goal line and crouches at crossbar level outside the blue paint with his hands set at shoulder level and uses exceptional lateral movement to be ready to drop down or raise his gloves and stick to make a save.
It’s not unorthodox movement, but more reactionary to the situation, and shows how he competes to make a save on every shot.
He’s the kind of goaltender who can make saves that will excite crowds, but who still has to learn and become more disciplined in order to not overplay the situation to the point of getting beat either.
Though he credits himself in developing his own style, the Hurricanes’ Cam Ward and New Jersey Devils future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur were the two pro goaltenders who Halladay specifically named when asked.
“I had a lot of favorite goalies,” Halladay said.
“Obviously, I love to watch Cam Ward here, growing up he was one of the big guys that I watched as well as Marty Brodeur. I’ve always been a big Brodeur fan. Again, I don’t think I try to model myself after a goalie, yet I think that I have my own style. Every goalie’s different, so I don’t think it would make much sense for me to copy somebody else.”
After watching one specific sequence during practice and subsequently finding out that those two dynamic, risk-reward, and competitive backstoppers who challenge shooters from every angle were the ones he admired, it all made sense.
As forward Brock McGinn circled into the slot and waited for just the right moment to release a wrist shot that hit nothing but the twine in the top corner of the net above Halladay’s shoulder, it happened only after the keeper exhausted his instinct to wait and wait and play the odds that the shooter would go low.
Even though he lost out on that one, just another shot during a practice drill among many faced on the day, the goaltender still looked upwards in disgust as the puck made it past him.
It was the timing of it all that made the difference as he appeared to set up in the right position, but it was that good a shot that beat him.
“Obviously, you can’t stop them all,” Halladay said.
“These guys here, they’re good. They’re high-caliber shooters. They all have quick shots, quick releases. They can hit a dime in the corners. They’re good shooters, so I just try to come out here and battle and try and stop them all. You let a few in, but you just focus on the next shot and try to get better and stop the next one.”
The difference in just stopping shots compared to working to stop great shots from an exceptional player like McGinn, is what will make the difference for a goaltender like Halladay to one day make it as a pro.
For now, as hard as he is working at camp as the only other goaltender next to 2012 third-round pick (69th overall) Daniel Altshuller, if something doesn’t pan out with the Hurricanes afterwards, Halladay will prepare to suit up for the Bloomington Thunder in the United States Hockey League (USHL).
Moving into a new league, he plans to build upon his 2013-2014 season with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) during which he posted an 18-8-2 record with a 2.26 goals against average and .932 save percentage.
“For this week, I’m just looking to enjoy the experience right now,” Halladay said.
“Obviously, it’d be great to have something after this as well. This camp is great experience and great exposure and I’m extremely happy to be here. My job is just to come out here every day and battle and give my full effort.”