Photo By Dan Hickling/Hickling Images
The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship might have a similar look in net as last year’s Team USA. After Tuesday’s cuts, four goaltenders were left on the roster that will battle for the final three spots.
Incoming Boston University freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger was one of the four, in addition to former teammate Joseph Woll, to make the final roster for the National Junior Evaluation Camp. As the youngest player in camp, Oettinger came into the week hoping to impress the coaching staff and scouts.
“My goal for this camp is to learn as much as I possibly can and show the scouts and coaches how I know I can play and compete against this level,” said Oettinger. “I want to just keep growing and learning a lot from the older guys, Parsons and Sarthou, just learning a lot from them because they were at this camp last year.”
Despite his age, Oettinger’s growth in a literal sense has put him as the largest goaltender in camp at 6’ 4” and 210 pounds. In fact, only forwards Tage Thompson (St. Louis Blues) and Jordan Greenway (Minnesota Wild) stand taller than the Lakeville, MN native.
That size should be an advantage for the 2017 NHL Draft eligible goaltender as he heads into the season with eyes on the tournament in Toronto.
“I think American goaltenders are nowadays really big and athletic,” said Oettinger. “You don’t see them staying back in their cease as much as some other guys do.”
Oettinger has been placed in an interesting position this season. Due to his December birthdate, he was not eligible for the NHL Draft this summer unlike the majority of his Team USA teammates. Incoming Boston University freshmen Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes), Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) and Chad Krys (Chicago Blackhawks) were all selected in the NHL Draft from the USHL. Woll, a Boston College commit, was also selected in the 2016 NHL Draft as Oettinger looked on.
“I was really, really happy for him,” said Oettinger. “I think Toronto getting him in the third round is actually a steal because I believe he should’ve been the first goalie drafted.”
Woll was instrumental in pushing Oettinger throughout the season, something he believes was important to put him in the position he is in now.
“Having him here every day with me to battle and push me, I knew if I couldn’t get the job done that he was going to come in and get it done,” said Oettinger. “We both pushed ourselves really hard to try to get that starting spot, and I know without him, I wouldn’t be here. I learned a ton from him and I’m really excited to be able to play against him the next couple of years.”
Oettinger is excited to begin his college hockey career. He dismissed any notion that he is paving a new path for goaltenders entering their first year of NHL Draft eligibility while on campus, but did have advice for goaltenders who may be complementing a similar decision.
“I think being able to come to BU as a freshman in my draft year is a huge advantage for me,” said Oettinger. “I think if any goalie has the opportunity to do that and is prepared, it’s definitely the right step.”
Coaches agree that Oettinger is ready for that next step. He posted impressive numbers with Team USA including a 11-3-0 record in USHL play complimented by a 2.24 GAA and .919 SV%. But much like many players, development is a path and not an overnight ordeal.
Boston University will have time to ease their young goaltender into the pace of college hockey. It will be a crucial step prior to a potential pro career, something that Oettinger wants to continue to work towards.
“I think you know that if you’re not putting in the work that there’s someone else out there doing it, so I think it pushes me every day because that’s my ultimate goal,” said Oettinger. “I know there’s only 60 jobs available, so I think it pushes me every single day to get better.”
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
Tag(s): Player News