Hockey teams often live or die by their goaltending.
A hot goalie can carry a team deep into the playoffs but it’s also critical to have a capable backup around to take the place of the starter in case of sickness or injury.
It’s an insurance policy and Prince George Spruce Kings have doubled their coverage with the signing this week of 17-year-old netminder Jordan Fairlie.
The six-foot-two, 175-pound Fort St. John native, who played midget hockey last season for the Cariboo Under-18 Cougars, has been added to the roster as the Kings’ third netminder.
Provincial rules on quarantine times brought on by the pandemic prevent B.C. Hockey League teams from timely access to affiliated players as replacements and the Kings want Fairlie around just in case anything happens to 19-year-olds Carter Woodside and Aaron Trotter.
“This year is obviously tough with getting access to affiliate players with the quarantine and players coming in and out of cohorts and we have a larger roster and we could probably make do when a forward or a defenceman goes down, but it’s certainly going to be tough if it’s a goaltender,” said Kings general manager Mike Hawes.
“Similar to what they do in the NCAA, we’ll carry three goalies this year. There’s several teams in the league doing the same just because of the difficult part of accessing affiliate players this year.”
In 18 B.C. Hockey Major Midget League games last season for the Cougars, Fairlie compiled a 10-7-1 record and 2.47 goals-against average. He helped the Cougars make it to the semifinal round at the Mac’s Invitational tournament in Calgary. He also played one WHL game for the Swift Current Broncos last November. He missed most of the second half of the season after knee surgery.
“He’s healthy and 100 per cent and happy to be here and we’re thrilled to have him,” said Hawes. “I watched him in practice yesterday and he’s sure a good kid and he competes hard. He has good size and he’s a really good athletic goaltender.”
Fairlie turns 18 on Nov. 5.
The Kings now have 23 players on their 25-man roster. Fairlie joins a team with a head coach, Alex Evin, and a goaltender coach, Chris Hurry, who have both played as college goaltenders.
The Kings, 4-1 winners Saturday in Merritt, continue the exhibition season next Friday, Oct. 23, with a rematch against the Centennials. The Cents will make the trek to Prince George for a Sunday, Oct. 25 game at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
All BCHL teams are subject to provincial health rules, which limit participation in games to 50 people, with another 50 allowed in the building during games. Fans can catch the action from both games on HockeyTV webcasts.
Spruce Kings winger Carter Cochrane is out with an ankle injury and forward Austin Spiridakis is still nursing a minor lower-body injury.