Congrats to Broncos goalie Eetu Laurikainen for being the WHL’s nominee for CHL goaltender of the week. Laurikainen was terrific this weekend posting a 2-0 record and stopping 71/73 shots for 0.973 save% & 1.00 GAA.
Laurikainen was strong all weekend but particularly key in two periods. He stopped all 19 Saskatoon shots in the first period on Friday before the Broncos were able to break that game open. He also stopped all 12 Regina shots in the third period on Saturday with the Broncos up 2-1 and Regina putting on some serious pressure.
There are moments in games where goaltenders get called on to be difference makers. If he let one or two in during the first period on Friday maybe that game goes a completely different way? If the Pats score in the third on Saturday and the game goes to overtime would a frustrating OT trend have continued? Instead he stepped up for his team in both situations and was a big part of them having a four point weekend.
The other Laurikainen has really given his team is confidence. Both players and coaches have mentioned how there is a significant sense of calm from the players knowing Laurikainen is in goal. It makes such a difference in how a team plays when they believe in the guy between the pipes. Laurikainen’s strong play and his emotional consistency/poise inspire that confidence.
There will be ups and downs as he is set to play more games than he ever has in his career and like anyone there are elements of his game that can improve. However, so far he really hasn’t given up any really weak goals and has always bounced back from any adversity in a game. It’s a good sign of things to come for the 19-year-old from Finland.
After all the question marks surrounding the selection of another European goaltenders this summer… so far the answers have been very positive.
Next up for Laurikainen and the Broncos is a date with the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday night. Red Deer is coming in fresh off of trading Captain Adam Kambeitz to Saskatoon and it will be interesting to see how they respond. They’ve had a strong East Division trip so far with 5 of a possible 8 points in some tough buildings. The Broncos know they will be a tough opponent and it should be a battle. Our pre-game show as always gets started at 6:30pm with The New Pioneer Co-op Home Centre Broncos Hockey on The Eagle 94.1 FM.