2004 Prospects: Q&A with Justin Peters

By Patrick King





Patrick King

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Justin Peters is one of the top goaltenders
eligible for the 2004 draft, sitting fourth among North American goaltenders in Central
Scouting Service’s mid-term rankings, and sixth amongst all goaltenders in International Scouting Services’ March report. Peters is in his second season with the
Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, this year as a starter. Last year, as a rookie,
he backed up veteran goaltender Andy
Chiodo
, who is now playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Peters has
had a successful year starting for the Majors, he has helped lead the team back
to the top after a slow start. The Majors are now five points behind the
Mississauga Ice Dogs for the Eastern Conference lead and have a game against
the Ice Dogs on March 7th.

 

He has the
eighth best goals against average in the OHL right now with only four
goaltenders ahead of him who are starters for their respective teams. His save
percentage is .911, which ranks him 11th. Peters is fourth in the
league in wins with 26 and tied for sixth in shutouts with three.

 

The native
of Blyth, Ontario covers a lot of the net at 6’1” and 208 lbs and is nearly
impossible to beat along the ice. Peters is a big reason for the Majors’
success this season as they have already clinched a playoff spot with six games
remaining in their schedule. Hockey’s Future spoke with the top prospect from
the Majors earlier this week.

 

HF: How long have you been a
goaltender?

JP: I’ve
been a goalie since atom, so about eight years.

 

HF: What are your strengths and
weaknesses?

JP: I think
I’m a big goalie with good size and have the ability to hopefully make the big
save when my team needs it. I like to play the puck to help my D out and give
my D an advantage against forecheckers.

 

HF: What aspect of your game do you
feel you need to work most on?

JP: I think
I can work on my technical aspects of my game; I’m always looking to improve on
that. I hadn’t learned too much on the technical aspect until I came to the
OHL. I worked with my goalie coach Jon Elkin and we’ve worked a lot over the
last year. Hopefully I can keep on improving on that.

 

HF: What kind of goaltender would
you describe yourself as?

JP: You
could say I’m a butterfly goalie but I don’t have a certain style I like to
stick by, I just do anything to stop the puck. I don’t have a certain way I
want to react to every puck, I just want to stop the puck and do my job.

 

HF: Who’s your favorite goaltender?

JP: My
favorite goalie was Patrick Roy growing up because everybody thought he was
done and he came back and showed everybody in Colorado he could do it. Now I’d
have to say my favorite goalie is Martin Brodeur. I like the way he can play
the puck and because of the Stanley Cups and he has so many wins over the
years. I have a lot of respect for him.

 

HF: Have you modeled yourself around
either goalie?

JP: Yeah
you can say I play like Martin Brodeur because I like to play the puck and also
like Patrick Roy because he’s a butterfly goalie. I just try to do whatever to
stop the puck; I don’t have a certain style. I like to use the butterfly and
both those goalies like to use the butterfly too.

 

HF: Are you superstitious?

JP: Not
really. I have a few little routines like putting my equipment on but it’s
nothing. I mean if things go wrong it’s not a big deal. I just stay loose
before the game. I don’t have any certain little superstitions; I just go to
the rink and play.

 

HF: How do you prepare before a
game?

JP: I like
to eat my pregame meal a few hours before I get picked up. Have a sleep before
my ride comes to pick me up to go to the rink. At the rink we play soccer and
try to keep the ball up. Stay loose; I don’t like to be tight and tense. I like
to get my mind ready and go from there.

 

HF: What do you do in your spare
time?

JP: Lately
it’s just been rest. Being here in Toronto after practice or what not I hang
out with my buddies on the hockey team by going to the mall, watching a movie,
just hang out really.

 

HF: What was it like to take over
for Andy Chiodo this year?

JP: It was
a great honor last year backing him up and I learned a lot. It just goes to
show with him this year being up in Pittsburgh that if you keep working hard
good things happen to good people. I had a lot of fun last year and I felt that
this year I could come in and get the job done and hopefully I can keep going.

 

HF: What did you learn from playing
behind Chiodo last year?

JP: I
learned not only on the ice but off the ice just to work hard and keep a good
mindset that you have your ups and downs during the year. It’s not going to be
smooth sailing the whole way and you just have to battle through the down time.
It seems like the best goalies are the ones that can handle all the situations.

 

HF: Last year you got to start Game
5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the
Ottawa 67’s, do you think
that that experience will help you with this years playoffs?

JP: Yeah it
was an unbelievable experience for me. It’s too bad Andy got hurt but I had to
grab the bull by the horns. I really feel it will help me this year having a
game under my belt. The atmosphere in playoffs is just an atmosphere by itself.
People tell you about it but you can’t say anything about it until you’ve
experienced it. I really feel it will help me a lot this year just to know what
to expect.

 

HF: You were a starter in the 2004
CHL Top Prospects Game, can you describe what it
felt like to start and play in a game of that magnitude?

JP: It was
a great honor first of all to be invited to the game. We actually just flipped
a coin before the game to see who would get the start. There wasn’t a set
goalie as the starter. It was a great honor and a great experience. I enjoyed
the whole week. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t pass it up for
anything. It was good to get out and meet some other top prospects and it was a
lot of fun.

 

HF: Was it harder to be a goaltender
in a game as offensive as the prospects game?

JP:  The thing is about the Top Prospects Game is
that it’s different than an All-Star game because the defense is playing
defense too, it’s not all about going out and scoring. We wanted to play as a
team. We got to bond a bit before for the first three days so we knew what to
expect from each player and everybody knew their role. I wouldn’t say it’s like
an All-Star game because we wanted to win and it was really competitive because
you’re trying to show your stuff to the scouts. I think it was a lot more
defensive than an All-Star game.

 

HF: Was there any more pressure
knowing that there were several scouts watching the
game?

JP: This
year being the draft year for me, you’re going to have that all the time. I
just gotta play on the ice and let my play dictate what’s going to happen.
Being in the Top Prospects Game you obviously know they’re going to be there.
It’s your play that’s going to dictate it and all I can do is just do my part.

 

HF: How do you feel you played in
the game?

JP: When I
came out I was pretty nervous and pretty tight. I’d like to have the first goal
back but after that I relaxed and felt pretty good about myself. I thought I
held my own.

 

HF: Have you given much thought to
the draft?

JP:
Obviously it’s in the back of your mind but like I said before I’m just trying
to play hockey and let it happen. I can just do my part by playing on the ice
and letting the rest happen.

 

HF: Will you be attending the draft?

JP: We’ll
have to see where it all comes down to where the rankings are. I’d like to
attend it; I’m sure it would be a great experience to get drafted or not just
to be there. We’ll have to see what happens.

 

HF: Where do you see yourself in
five years?

JP: I’d
like to see myself playing in the NHL. I know it’s everybody’s dream and it’s a
goal I have. Hopefully I can pursue it. I’ll just work hard and go to the rink
every day with the same attitude and hope for the best.

 

HF: And finally, who’s the best
shooter in the OHL?

JP: I’d
have to say Patrick O’Sullivan from
the Mississauga Ice Dogs. He’s the best pure goal scorer. He’s a threat
whenever he’s on the ice. We play him this Friday and hopefully we can get some
revenge for the 5-2 loss last time.

 

HF: Has any player in the OHL had
your number?

JP: I don’t
know if any player in particular has had my number. I know there have been some
games where we have been blown out by teams or what not but I don’t know that
there is any certain player who has had my number.