In one weekend, Mathieu Corbeil may have gone from goaltender of the future to goaltender of the present.
The 18-year-old Halifax Mooseheads sophomore put together one of the best weekends of puck-stopping the franchise has seen in a long time with back-to-back first-star performances at the Metro Centre in a 6-1 win over the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Friday and a 4-1 triumph over the P.E.I. Rocket on Saturday.
Corbeil stopped 63 of 65 shots, turning away countless breakaways, odd-man rushes and goal-mouth scrambles, and had the crowd roaring his approval and getting a thunderous ovation during the star announcements.
One weekend does not a superstar make, but in Moose Country — where 20 previous outings yielded just a single victory and back-to-back wins hadn’t been witnessed in a whopping nine months — hope is something worth celebrating.
“He made some miraculous saves,” said teammate Gabriel Desjardins, echoing the sentiments of all involved, including the Mooseheads’ exasperated opponents.
At 6-foot-6, Corbeil is imposing in the crease. But he had a newfound swagger in the victories, challenging at the top of his crease and giving opponents little to shoot at.
After some distressing outings earlier this season, including six games allowing four goals or more, Corbeil tinkered with his approach to try and reverse his fortunes.
“I changed my preparation before games,” said Corbeil, a fourth-round draft choice in 2007. “I go somewhere isolated with some music and try to be as focused as possible.”
No one’s crowning him the next Jean-Sebastien Giguere just yet, but combined with a 23-save outing in last Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Saint John Sea Dogs, it’s at least a small step toward the Herd finding long-term stability in goal.
“I knew I had a good game in Saint John, so my confidence went up, and I had a good game against Val-d’Or, so my confidence went up again,” Corbeil said. “I think I’m going to get (my rhythm) and it’s going to continue like this.”
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