Pirates goaltending preview

By Caitlin LoCascio
At this point, the Pirates’ tentative roster has four goaltenders on it: Corey Hirsch, Sebastien Charpentier, Curtis Cruickshank, and Rastislav Stana. There is no new faces among them, all saw action with the team last season. But who will be the pair that gets chosen is a mystery.

Corey Hirsch joined the Pirates last season, and quickly became a fan favorite. He spent much of the season away on loan, playing in both the IHL and AHL, and was twice named the IHL’s Goaltender of the Week. He is an extremely solid goaltender, and a veteran with over 100 NHL games under his belt. He is extremely adept glove-side, and is not afraid to use it – an attribute far too many AHL goaltenders do not have. And, perhaps most importantly, the rest of the team has confidence in his goaltending and this shows in their play.

Sebastien Charpentier is struggling to overcome illness and injury. Once a fantastic ECHL goalie with incredible amounts of promise, a troubling shoulder, hip, and chronic arthritis have held him back. His concentration has improved tenfold in the past two seasons, and he is capable of a brilliant game. Unfortunately, that is not seen nearly enough. It is hard to pinpoint what he is doing wrong, but even harder to say what it is he is doing right.

Curtis Cruickshank is a mixed bag. His size and agility make for a great combo, but his young age and inexperience are working against him. He made solid progress through the year, but seemed to go downhill after being loaned to the UHL near the end of the season. This should be his last year to prove himself, and if not, the organization is likely to walk away from him.

Rastislav Stana only played only a few games for the Pirates last season, and spent the majority of his time with the team’s ECHL, Richmond. His shining moment was in Providence in December, when he made 25 saves in the third period as the team pulled out a tie. He really proved himself under pressure, with essentially no defense in front of him that night. Again, he is young and inexperienced, but the organization will work with him as they do Cruickshank.

Overall: A Hirsch and Stana match-up may be the way to go. The Capitals re-signed Charpentier, despite the arthritis. There were times this season when his GAA was 5(+) and that is just not acceptable. Corey Hirsch is by far the best goaltender of the four, and should provide solid goaltending for Portland, and Washington, for a couple more years at least before retiring. He was called up twice this season and what little he did play was successful. Stana, though new, appears to have much more natural talent than Cruickshank. With practice, guidance, and sheer time, he should prove to be a valuable asset to the organization.