Neither guy has a lock on the No. 1 job. That being the case, Devon Fordyce and Brett Zarowny will be out to impress the braintrust of the Prince George Cougars every time they're in the crease.
As the Cougars prepare to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings in a WHL pre-season doubleheader this coming weekend, the 18-year-old Fordyce and 17-year-old Zarowny are the only two goalies left on the Cats' roster. A third stopper, 16-year-old Ty Edmonds, was released after last Sunday's 5-0 exhibition win against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Fordyce was the backup to overager Drew Owsley last season so he would seem to have the inside track on the starter's minutes. But Zarowny is an ultra-competitive and confident individual and should push Fordyce to be at his absolute best.
"It will be a good battle between the two of them to see who can earn the right to start most of the games," said Cougars head coach Dean Clark.
With the Cougars last year, Fordyce posted a 2-8-0-1 record, with a 4.30 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage. Zarowny, meanwhile, tended goal for the Leduc Oil Kings, who were the host team for the Telus Cup national midget hockey championship. The experience he gained during that tournament will be invaluable as he looks to make a successful jump to the WHL.
"He's a six-foot-one guy and very athletic," Clark said of Zarowny. "He has that style of goaltending you see nowadays in the NHL -- the butterfly style by a bigger guy. He's just solid. He's been the guy that's been the most consistent out of all the goaltenders that were at camp."
Both players became property of the Cougars through the bantam draft. Fordyce was chosen in the sixth round (114th overall) in 2009 and Zarowny was a third-round selection (45th overall) in 2010.
Clark anticipates some growing pains for both Fordyce and Zarowny but there was no arguing with their efforts against the Tigers in Sunday's shutout victory. In the game, played in St. Albert, they combined for 28 saves.
The Cougars do have another highly-rated goaltender in their organization but he's a bit of a wildcard right now. He's 18-year-old Joonas Korpisalo, a prospect of the Columbus Blue Jackets who was nabbed fifth overall by the Cats in the most recent CHL import draft. Korpisalo is expected to play in his native Finland this season but a future in Prince George isn't out of the question.
"At this point it doesn't look like he'll be here but certainly the door is open," said Cougars general manager Dallas Thompson. "We drafted him and have been in contact with Columbus and his agent and they know that there would be a spot here where he could come and play. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen right now."
The six-foot-two Korpisalo represented Finland at the 2011 world under-18 championship, where he had a .902 save percentage in six games. The Blue Jackets picked him in the third round (62nd overall) in June's NHL draft.
So far in the pre-season, the Cougars have a 2-0 record. In their other game, Saturday in St. Albert, they beat the Red Deer Rebels 6-3.
The Cats will host the Oil Kings on Friday and Saturday. Both games will start at 7 p.m. at CN Centre.
The Cougars will close out their pre-season schedule with a Sept. 14 road game against the Kamloops Blazers.