Prince George Cougars goaltenders Taylor Gauthier and Tyler Brennan are going camping this week.
But this is no backwoods journey that involves tents and sleeping bags. They’ve been invited to take part in a Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence virtual goaltender camp.
Starting Tuesday and ending Friday, Gauthier (born in 2001) and Brennan (born in 2003) will tap into Hockey Canada’s coaching expertise using their computer screens to interact with instructors in sessions to test and improve mental and physical skills and sharpen game preparation.
The four-day camp provides Hockey Canada a chance to evaluate and prepare the country’s top puckstoppers for summer development and selection camps later this summer for the men’s national teams.
“This is a great recognition for these two young men and our organization,” said Cougars’ head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. “For both to be selected to a national camp shows they’re in the top tier of their age groups. We’re very fortunate to have two talented goaltenders that will give us stability in the position for years to come.”
The Cougars are the only WHL team with more than one goalie invited to the virtual camp.
The six-foot-two, 190-pound Gauthier, who turned 19 in February, is preparing for his fourth WHL season. He played in 50 of the 68 games and led the WHL in minutes played (2,870) while tuning in the best numbers of his junior career, including a 2.93 goals-against average and .917 save percentage while winning 16 games. Ranked 19th among North American goaltenders available in the 2020 NHL draft, the Calgary native has won 39 of 137 career WHL games and has compiled a .903 save percentage.
Brennan, a six-foot-three, 187-pound native of Winnipeg, will celebrate his 17th birthday on Sept. 27. He’s one of six under-18 goalies among the 23 in total invited to the camp. As a WHL rookie last year, Brennan posted a 3.34 GAA and .887 save percentage in 15 games, leading the Cougars to wins in four of those games. The Cougars drafted him 21st overall in the 2018 bantam draft from Rink Academy in Winnipeg.
“The Program of Excellence goaltending camp is a great opportunity to bring together the top young goaltenders in the country and assist with the development process for these athletes,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada.
“Despite the unique nature of this year’s camp and the switch to an online delivery for our programs, we believe all 23 goalies will benefit from world-class instruction as we continue to prepare for a new season.”