Jeff Glass will already go down in hockey history as the goaltender who backstopped the 2005 Canadian World Junior team to a gold medal. He hopes to be remembered at the pro level as well.
This season he is playing for the ECHL Charlotte Checkers, an affiliate of the New York Rangers. Coach Derek Wilkinson, a former NHL goaltender, assessed his play.
“Overall he’s done real well. He’s had some growing pains at times, but I think he’s going to be the real deal.”
Glass has a 7-5-0 record with Charlotte, a .915 save percentage and a 3.05 goals against average. He’s third in the league in shootout percentage, having stopped 21 of 26 for .808 save percentage.
Wilkinson described Glass’s growing pains as, “Just little things, it’s experience, in the pro game things happen a little quicker. He’s had a tough time with finding the puck through screens and different things like that. Other than that, he’s been great. He’s had a couple of those nights where he couldn’t find the puck and he’s given up some goals that he wouldn’t have liked to. But overall he’s been real good.”
The Checkers are the same team that fellow Ottawa prospect Kelly Guard was sent to last season. Comparing the two, Wilkinson said, “I think overall Jeff’s been a little bit more consistent. Kelly got off to a great start last year, I think he was like 7-0 and then really struggled for a long period of time and then got it back again towards the end of the year. Whereas Jeff’s been a lot more consistent across the board. Both great goalies. They’re a lot alike in a lot of ways. They’re big, they take up the net, they’re athletic. And I know Kelly now is the No. 1 goalie in Binghamton, he’s doing great now. I think Jeff’s right on the same page.”
Glass saw time in five games in Binghamton between Nov. 19 and Dec. 8, posting a 1-4 record along with a .882 save percentage and 4.12 goals against, very similar numbers to Billy Thompson.
Glass played his junior hockey for the WHL Kootenay Ice, where he performed very well behind a good defensive team. The Checkers are over .500 at 18-16-3, but give up 33.68 shots against per game, the eighth highest in the 25-team league.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Glass after the Checkers’ loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Saturday night. Glass’s partner Chris Holt (NYR) started the game against Mike Dunham, in Gwinnett on a conditioning assignment.
HF: Can you first just talk generally about how you feel your season has gone?
JG: I think it’s been an awesome year so far, I’ve learned a lot, it’s my first year pro. I’ve come into it not really knowing what to expect, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the coaching staff here and the organization in Ottawa. So it’s been a good year for me development-wise just to kind of learn the ropes of pro hockey and it’s turned into a good situation.
HF: How does it feel to be a rookie again after so long?
JG: Yeah, it’s a little bit different (laughing). Packing the bus, it’s something you get used to and I don’t really mind it. Everyone has to pay their dues. That’s part of hockey, so it’s not a big deal.
HF: You said you didn’t really know what to expect playing pro. What has been the biggest surprise then?
JG: I think it’s just adapting to the lifestyle. In junior hockey, you’re pretty contained, you’re guided in your path. You’re told to do a certain thing and pro hockey is a little bit more open. You’re given a little bit more freedom to do what you want, to kind of take your career in your own hands and excel as much as you want or as little as you want. I think it’s a great opportunity for guys if they want to take this opportunity. I’ve been given have a chance here in Charlotte and I’m going to run with it and make the most of it.
HF: Kootenay plays a very defensive system, I imagine this has to be a lot more wide open. How has that adjustment been for you?
JG: That’s one of the major things I’ve had to adapt to. You’re right, last year we played a very defensive style. It was one of those teams where we didn’t allow a lot of chances. The shots that came were from the outside. I think this is really helping my game, just learning every aspect of the game. I’ve played on two teams that are almost night and day now and I feel like if I can play on both, handle both styles of hockey, then I’m only going to get better. That’s good for me.
HF: You played five games up in Binghamton, how do you think it went for you?
JG: It was a learning experience. I think I had my high points and my low points. I struggled a few games and I played solid a few games. It was good to get a win. To go up there and get some confidence. I think most importantly I proved to myself that I can play at that level and I can succeed at that level. It’s just a matter of time and of working on a few small things. But I think it was really good for my confidence just to know it’s not that far away.
HF: Do you feel like you’ve been playing better since you got back?
JG: Absolutely, absolutely. The play is just a little bit faster, a little bit stronger. Everyone is just a little bit better. When you come back down, you realize how much you have to work to get back to that level and to succeed again.
HF: I imagine you watched the World Juniors this year, what kind of emotions did you have?
JG: It was awesome just to kind of relive it from the outside this year. Last year’s was pretty heated, and you got thrown in the mix there in a hurry. This year to sit back and kind of watch the guys do well and win a gold medal again was awesome. It was a lot of fun to look back on it and remember where I was when they were doing that stuff. I wish nothing for the best for the boys and I’m glad they got the gold again this year.
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