During the 2013-2014 Ontario Junior Hockey League season, the league was privileged to have three very talented 16 year old goaltenders battling for starting roles. While Michael McNiven (Georgetown Raiders) and Ben Blacker (Milton Icehawks) proved to be instrumental in the success both young teams had last season. However, due to a goalie logjam, perhaps the best goaltender out of all of them, Jeremy Helvig, was unable to finish the season as the starting goaltender. But that may have been the best thing for his career.
Helvig was the second goaltender selected in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, becoming property of the Kingston Frontenacs in the third round at 45th overall. His performance during his draft year made him very admirable to OHL scouts, posting seven shutouts and a 1.70 GAA in 31 games with the Toronto Red Wings Min Midget AAA club. Those stats are very impressive for Helvig, who posted a 22-24-6 record despite playing a weak club like the Red Wings.
Some believed Helvig would have a chance to make the jump to the Ontario Hockey League right after the draft at the young age of 16. However, that wouldn’t be the case. With experienced backup Matt Mahalak holding the starting role for the season, and Lucas Peressini simply outplaying Helvig to earn the spot, Helvig found himself in Junior A for the 2013-2014 season. Luckily for him, his club, the OJHL’s Toronto Lakeshore Patriots, were pretty much unstoppable all season long.
Starting out in a split starting role, Helvig was moved to backup once the team acquired Evan Buitenhuis mid-season from the Oakville Blades. Buitenhuis came in as one of the league’s top goaltenders, so Helvig was able to learn a lot while sitting on the bench. He had a good amount of time to do that, as the team had an extended post-season thanks to them making it all the way to the Canadian Junior A hockey championships. During his stint with the Patriots, Helvig recorded a 17-7-1 record in a league where scoring isn’t exactly a rare occurrence.
Helvig is an athletic hybrid goaltender with great reflexes and size for the pro level. Expected to man the show in Lakeshore next year with Evan Buitenhuis being too old. His athleticism and positional play will be in the spotlight next year in his pursuit to prove he belongs in the OHL.
With Peressini, who is listed on the Detroit Red Wings training camp roster, taking over as the starting goaltender, Helvig will be given a chance to prove himself as Kingston’s goaltender this season. Peressini is currently 19, so Helvig is expected to be the long term guy in net for the club, but his time likely hasn’t come just yet. However, its Helvig’s job to steal away, so if he proves in the early stages that he deserves more ice time, watch out. This kid is good.
Steven is a junior hockey reporter for the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and also focuses on international hockey for his website, TheHockeyHouse.net. You can follow Steven on twitter @StevenEllisNHL.
Photo by Amy Deroche / OJHL Images