If it hadn’t been for that last game against the second-seeded Brooks Bandits, Canmore Eagles rookie goaltender Brady Rouleau would have summed up the Alberta Junior Hockey League south zone playoffs with the same two words he used to sum up the regular season.
Rouleau, who last fall stepped up to the Eagles from the Lethbridge Midget Triple A Hurricanes, finished the season with a goals against average of “around 4.” He had words for that as well.
“Not good at all.”
And he’d only been in goal for 20 out of 60 games all year with the Eagles. Game starter Steve Papciak got most of the action.
“My stats weren’t very good,” Rouleau said. “But it’s because I wouldn’t play for a nine-game stretch, then get put against the top team away from home. That’s pretty frustrating. My coach played me in all the tough games. For development for next year, he said.”
“So… everything after Christmas wasn’t too positive,” Rouleau said. “We were scrambling to make the playoffs.”
But the Eagles made it into the south zone playoffs — just by the skin of their teeth — in seventh place.
Rouleau sat on the bench and watched Papciak in goal for the first two games of the first round.
Then the Eagles came up against the Brooks Bandits in game three.
With Papciak in goal again the score was 3-0 for the Bandits at the end of the first period.
“My coach said to me, ‘You’re going in’,” Rouleau said. “I let no goals in on 22 shots in the rest of the game. And we got a goal, too. The final score was 3-1.”
“And I was named game star. It was a good way to end the year.”
Indeed. A very good way to end the season, even though the south zone playoffs ultimately went to the Canmore Kodiaks, who themselves lost to the north zone Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL Enerflex Cup playoffs.
At 17 “going on 18,” Rouleau is back in Lethbridge picking up some fourth quarter Grade 12 courses at Catholic Central high school, and enjoying time with his mom Joel and his dad Ed Rouleau, a salesman for the Fort Macleod Feed Mill.
Rouleau will be back in Canmore with the Eagles again next year. In fact he’ll be heading out to spring camp in Canmore at the end of April.
“That’ll be good for me . . . to see who I’m up against for next year,” Rouleau said. “I hope to be main goalie next year. Steve Papciak, he’s 21 now, so he can’t play next year.”