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by Rob Benneian
It’s incredible the people you meet in a junior hockey rink.
With the Saginaw Spirit in town to face the Windsor Spitfires, I planned to chat with Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson after the game to see how he was doing in his first season since becoming the Detroit Red Wings third round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
It was lingering in the back of my mind that some of the Wings brass might be there, because in the last month I’ve seen Kris Draper, Jim Nill, Jim Bedard and former Wings players and management Steve Yzerman and Pat Verbeek. But by the time I’d started talking to Jake I’d forgotten all about it, so I was a little surprised when we were wrapping up our interview and one of Saginaw’s coaches butted in with ‘Jake, there are two guys from the Red Wings here to see you.’
I headed out into the hallway and there were Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard and goaltending develoment coach Chris Osgood. After some playful jockeying over who would answer the reporter’s questions, the more senior Bedard deferred to Ozzie who graciously answered a couple of questions about Paterson.
Rob Benneian: Not a great performance by Jake (he was pulled after allowing four goals on 26 shots in two periods of work), but what have you seen out of him that you like this year?
Chris Osgood: Same as last year, he’s steady. He’s calm in there. For the most part he’s the same every night. He’s played a ton this year, I think that has a lot to do with (tonight’s performance). He’s seeing a lot of shots which we like. For us, we’re not too concerned with statistics, more on how he develops over the course of the year.
RB: He mentioned he was kind of a Wings fan growing up, he looked up to you as a goalie. What kind of advice can you give him?
CO: Just keep playing, work hard. Don’t get down. All the times I’ve seen him I tell him just keep playing like he has been, develop and get better every game.
Jake has played 21 of the Spirit’s 23 games and has faced a ton of rubber, nearly 33 shots per appearance, behind a very young Saginaw defence. His backup is a skilled but very green Nikita Serebryakov, who helped lead Russia to U17 gold last year but is still learning the OHL game. He gave up two goals on 10 shots after taking over for Paterson.
Here’s my chat with Jake…
RB: First off, tell me what some of your strengths are.
Jake Paterson: I think I’m a pretty consistent goalie. I give my team a chance to win every night. I’m pretty quick down low. I like to get out of the net and handle the puck whenever I can.
RB: What are some of your weaknesses?
JP: Just trying to get quicker, bigger, elevate my game so I can play at the next level.
RB: You got in for a bit at the Subway Super Series (for Team OHL against Team Russia), what was that experience like?
JP: (smiles) Yeah, that was a great experience, it was a great group of guys. Going against the Russians, coming off a loss, we wanted to get back in the win column. It was a fun experience.
RB: When you were picked to play for Team OHL, what was that feeling like?
JP: It’s a good feeling whenever you can represent your league, your country. I was pretty happy to get selected and to get the win as well.
RB: Did you have a favourite team growing up?
JP: I was a Wings fan and a Leafs fan even though they’re rivals. I’m from Toronto, so I was a Leafs fan and Brian Shanahan (Brendan’s brother) coached me growing up.
RB: How often are you in contact with the Wings brass?
JP: They’ve come out to a few games this year, I’ve gotten to talk to them. I’ve talked to Fisch (Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer), he came out to a game and I talked to him. We’re in contact and they come out to a fair amount of games as well.
RB: Especially with goalies, the Wings are (Jake smiles here), you know where I’m going with this, they’re really, really patient. How do you not let that affect you, how do you stay focused on today?
JP: The Wings, with any position, they’re gonna develop their players through the A (American Hockey League) and the Coast (East Coast Hockey League) so you just gotta be patient. Obviously they like to develop their goalies, so you just gotta be patient through the process and hopefully it works out for the best.
RB: Did you have any goalies growing up that you idolized, or still do now?
JP: Being a Wings fan, I looked up to Ozzie a little bit and it was kind of a neat experience being able to meet him, being able to work with him a little bit. Now, obviously Carey Price has taken over the league a little bit, so I look up to him as well.
From the opposition Windsor Spitfires, head coach Bob Boughner said if it were not for Paterson’s play, the game could have been decided much quicker in Windsor’s favour. Windsor outshot Saginaw 30-22 through two periods.
Spits defenceman Nick Ebert said the team identified Paterson’s glove as the weakest area of his game, and they targeted there to score. Of the four goals allowed by Paterson, just one, a Nick Ebert blast from the point, beat him glove. The other three came off a goalmouth scramble, a crazy dump-in/bounce/deflection and a Kerby Rychel wrist shot from the top of the circle over his blocker. Despite that, Paterson seemed to juggle a couple of shots glove-side, so that might be something to keep an eye on going forward.
I expect I’ll be chatting with Jake again next week when Saginaw revisits the WFCU Centre Nov. 23. Any questions for the puck-stopper, shoot them to me on Twitter @robbenneian