Rookie Joel Grondin has jumped to the forefront in the fight for the Halifax Mooseheads’ backup goaltending job.
Grondin, who was among 10 stoppers invited to training camp to battle for a spot behind 18-year-old starter Mathieu Corbeil, has made the biggest impression on the coaching staff so far and is one of only four left fighting for the job.
The 17-year-old from Port Cartier, Que., is nursing a mild groin injury heading into tonight’s 6:30 p.m. QMJHL pre-season tilt with the P.E.I. Rocket at the Halifax Forum.
“Grondin’s had a pretty good camp,” said Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell, when asked which stopper has the inside track on the backup job.
“We’ve seen a lot of good things from him as a young goaltender and we’re really liking what we’re seeing so far.”
Grondin, selected in the ninth round (145th overall) of June’s draft, stopped 20 of 22 shots before being injured in Saturday’s 6-5 shootout road loss to the Rocket.
The six-foot-one, 192-pounder started 31 games with Notre Dame in the Quebec AAA ranks last season, going 12-13-2 with a 3.38 goals-against average and a .879 save percentage.
Tryout Randy Chisholm, 17, and Gatlin Burt, 18, as well as 19-year-old Justin Collier, remain at camp. Burt hasn’t been able to skate yet because of paperwork issues.
The Mooseheads have been impressed with the play of many rookies at camp to the point where some returnees from last season’s roster are starting to feel the heat. Russell said cutting a returning player is “definitely” a possibility.
“Our veteran guys had five months in the off-season to train and be in peak shape coming into training camp,” he said. “If some of them haven’t done that, that’s not my fault.”
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