2016 AHL All-Star Classic: Opposition keeping Comrie busy in Manitoba

By Sean Shapiro
Eric Comrie - Manitoba Moose

Photo: Manitoba Moose goaltender and Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie has faced 1015 shots in 31 games, the most of any AHL goaltender (courtesy of Graig Abel Collection/Getty Images)

 

 

Eric Comrie looks out of place in the AHL Western Conference locker room.

With his boyish face and skinny stature, you could easily confuse Comrie with one of the teenagers volunteering to help out during the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic taking place in Syracuse, New York.

However, the Winnipeg Jets prospect has earned his stature amongst the AHL’s elite goaltenders during his rookie season.

Comrie has a .910 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average this season for the Manitoba Moose. Both those numbers would likely improve if he weren’t playing behind a porous defense that allows a league-worst 34.19 shots per game.

It is a situation that could have shaken a young goalie’s confidence. Comrie has had five games where he has allowed at least five goals, and allowed eight in an early December tilt against the Chicago Wolves. Each time he has shaken it off and bounced back.

“We have a young team and we’re battling,” Comrie said. “We battled hard every single night. We’re just getting our feet wet and we’re working hard this season.”

While the Moose have struggled, Comrie’s play contributes to an exciting future in goal for the Jets.

Connor Hellebuyck started the season with Manitoba, but has taken advantage of his opportunities with the NHL club. Comrie said he is looking forward to competing with Hellebuyck in the future as the Jets have a pair of talented goalies in their early 20’s.

“That’s what you want, you want competition because competition makes you better,” Comrie said. “I think we’re really excited with the situation we got (in Winnipeg.)”

Comrie has also enjoyed the geographic situation.

The Jets moved their AHL affiliate from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Winnipeg and the MTS Center before this season. It has given the prospects a chance to see the NHL team up close, while the upper management can keep closer tabs on the future of the Jets.

“It’s great,” Comrie said. “We really have a chance to be around the NHL and see what the players in the NHL do to stay up there. We also have the NHL coaches right there and we can make sure we’re working our way up.”

Even when he is not in the shadow of the NHL club Comrie has been impressing.

In the Skills Competition on Sunday night, he sparkled and took home top goaltender honors. In a series of events designed to terrorize goalies – 3-on-nones and point-blank shots – Comrie made save after save.

“It’s fun,” Comrie said. “It’s a big honor for me and I’m happy to be here. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season.”

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @seanshapiro