This week, we sneak a peek at a couple of strong goaltending prospects playing in the Okanagan as well as two more skaters in the CSSHL.

Evan Gardner, Goaltender, Pursuit of Excellence Bantam Prep

Evan is the type of tender that makes the position look easier than it is. Evan is a calm and technical goalie with very-good footwork. His footwork allows him to navigate his crease with ease and efficiency. Evans pushes from the bottom of his post to the top of his crease quickly, allowing him to close the gap and get square to shooters keeping him in a good position to cut down the angle and make the save. His footwork combined with his vision and focus allows him to track the play very well. Evan doesn’t typically make desperation saves often as he relies on his fundamentals and positioning, but the odd time he needs to make one he keeps his body upright and combines that with his strong lateral movement to make a big save and stay in the play for secondary opportunities. His rebound control is good directing pucks into corners or low-quality areas on the ice. His body is like a sponge as he absorbs pucks from all areas of the ice without giving up bad rebounds. Hugging his posts tightly and uses his legs to cover the bottom of the net are strengths of his game as he takes away the bottom of the net. Evan would benefit from making himself bigger in the net as at times he has a tendency to shrink down and become too compact, leaving open net for shooters up top. His puck skills are attractive as he loves to play the puck coming out of his net, often to help give his team an advantage and quick transition. Overall, Evan’s calm technical game combined with his mental fortitude and high-level footwork make him a reliable goalie with an opportunity to be selected in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft.” – Kaden Moore

Jesse Sanche, Goaltender, Pursuit of Excellence Bantam Prep

“Jesse is an athletic and flexible goalie with a high compete level. Jesse tracks pucks well battling through bodies to pick pucks up through traffic. Jesse’s footwork is good and will continue to improve as he works on technique. He hugs his posts adequately, though at times loses his post. He gets square to shooters quickly and stays in a good position to take away the shooter’s options. His rebound control is strong as he directs pucks into corners and unthreatening spots with relative ease. He doesn’t always absorb pucks as sometimes they drop in front of him, but he controls the puck quickly with his reflexes and athleticism to prevent any second chances. Jesse has a fairly active stick blocking centring passes as well as utilizing his poke check effectively when able. His puck skills are effective and allow him to help his defence corps when he leaves the net to settle dump ins. Jesse could work on his lateral movement to make it more fluid and efficient which would allow him to get across his crease and into position quicker for cross-seam passes or odd-man rushes. Jesse has a raw athletic game that allows him to make saves he shouldn’t and keep his team in games. Once Jesse taps into all the potential and refines the technical and fundamental side of his position, he could become a very reliable puck stopper who can take on a big workload at the next level.” – Kaden Moore

Nate Crema, Forward, Burnaby Winter Club Bantam Varsity

“A scoring machine for a smallish Burnaby Winter Club Bantam Varsity Team, Nate Crema is one of the more dynamic and exciting players in each game!  Always in the mix of the action at both ends of the ice, Nate shows his skills as an all-around center who isn’t afraid of bigger players or the physical play as he is capable of giving and receiving punishment equally well. Even as an undersized center, Nate is a deceptively fast and fundamentally sound skater with good balance and stop/start. Even though Nate gets pushed around the occasion, he protects the puck well and more times than not will outrace any opponent to the loose puck. His strong hockey intelligence allows him to not only see the ice well but to anticipate the play and capitalize on it. On the ice, he never deters from his full-throttle approach to being a better teammate by way of hustle, determination, and understanding of the game. Nate just wants to help his team win, and he plays the game the right way – hard, fast, and fair!

One of Nate’s best traits is his willingness to compete for every second of every shift as he never seems to give up!  In his last game of the season in the Championship Game of the Bantam Varsity Division against West Van – Nate scored two goals – the first for his team with a few seconds left in the second period, and with 12 seconds left in the game and the benefit of an extra attacker, Nate used some shifty skating and slick stick work to score his second goal through dense traffic in front of the net!  Nate still thought his team not could, but would score to send the game to OT – that’s will, attitude, compete, and determination!” – Phil Dietz

Matthew Lahey, Defenceman, Pacific Coast Bantam Prep

“In his first season with the Pacific Coast Academy Bantam Prep team, Matthew Lahey excelled at both ends of the ice. Lahey became an important player for the Sea Devils and earned the trust of the coaching staff as he was relied upon in all situations. A minute-munching, two-way defenseman, Lahey is extremely versatile, playing on the first unit for both powerplay and penalty kill as well as logging big minutes at even strength. While Lahey is not a prototypical powerplay quarterback, he does utilize great offensive instincts to find ways to sneak down behind coverage and set himself up to receive one-timers. Lahey drives the net whenever it is safe and can finish chances off, even when they are in mid-air where his hand-eye coordination takes over. Lahey also is very smart when taking shots as he can shoot low for rebound chances and find open corners on goalies. Lahey’s skating ability is extremely smooth with great footwork going backwards and forwards. While he does not blow you away with explosive top-end speed, he is able to get where he needs to go without struggling to do so. A good puck handler, he can keep possession regardless of the direction he is going. In his own zone, Lahey is very calm under pressure and deal with opponent forechecks with great poise. After he avoids the pressure, he has the ability to make fluid transitions up ice and makes a great first pass to initiate rushes. Lahey projects as a smart, reliable two-way defenseman that can log tons of minutes and be trusted in any situation, which coaches love.” – Adam Goodwin