Xtreme goaltenders backstopping team to playoffs
As the Airdrie Xtreme continue down the path to the playoffs, it can be assured it has its best minding the net.
Kurtis Chapman and Jake Carlson have been the mainstays in goal for the Xtreme in what’s been a rocky season for the team.
Chapman is the elder statesman of the two as one of the four returning players from last year’s squad, while Carlson is a rookie. On the ice they have similar records and similar styles, but off the ice, they have two different personalities, according to Xtreme assistant coach Bill Way.
“Chapman’s a character-and-a-half and Carlson’s very well-mannered,” he said. “They both compete hard and aren’t willing to let much go by them.”
In his second season with the Xtreme, Chapman has established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the league.
He has the second best save percentage in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) at 0.931 per cent and sixth with a 2.53 goals against average (GAA).
He also represented the Xtreme at the 2013 AMBHL All-Star game in January along with team co-captain Jordan McConnell.
Last year, as a rookie, he faced the challenge of adapting to the increased skill, speed and tempo the AMBHL is known for and all three were stepping stones as he stepped back in net for the Xtreme this season.
“I learned how to be more confident and to come out and play the puck more,” Chapman said. “This season could’ve been better, though. I’ve had a couple of bad games.”
His rookie year also taught him the mindset he would need to be in to succeed at the bantam AAA level and he made a concerted effort to keep his focus steady throughout each game.
“I wanted to be more focused,” he said. “Some second years tend to drift off because it’s their last year (in bantam). Sometime I get off track.”
For Carlson, his goal coming into his first season with the Xtreme was simple.
All he wanted to do was make the team. Like Chapman, the speed of the games and the harder shots were an adjustment at the beginning for Carlson and he’s spent the season trying to emulate his veteran counterpart.
“I like the way he plays,” Carlson said. “He has a good style and I try to do the same.”
The Xtreme has come to rely on both goaltenders throughout the season and their records are almost identical.
Chapman, who’s played one more game than Carlson, is 6-5-3, while Carlson is 5-6-2.
Being able to split the goaltending duties between both goalies has helped the Xtreme’s confidence by knowing the team has two solid netminders it can rely on.
“They’ve both been clutch for us,” Way said.
“It doesn’t matter who starts, the team’s confident in both of them. We’ll keep going that way and whoever’s hottest is who plays in the playoffs.”
The Xtreme closed out January with a 3-3 tie against the Lethbridge AAA Hurricanes and will play three of its last four games of the regular season at home.
The team’s next home games will be Feb. 2 at 7:15 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena against the Red Deer White and Feb. 3 at 1 p.m. against the Southeast Hockey Hounds.