2008-09: Michael Houser began the year with the Little Caesar’s midget program before joining the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. Splitting the goaltending duties with Aaron Crandall for the Eastern Conference’s last-place Buccaneers, he was 5-18 with a 4.02 goals against and .902 save percentage.
2009-10: Houser played 25 games for the OHL’s London Knights as a backup to Michael Hutchinson (BOS). He was 17-5 with 1 loss in overtime and had a 3.10 goals against and .900 save percentage. The Knights were first in the Midwest Division and reached the second round in the playoffs. Houser made three relief appearances in the playoffs and in 53 minutes of action had a 7.92 goals against and .821 save percentage. He was ranked 11th amongst North American goaltenders in Central Scouting’s final rankings but was not selected in the 2010 NHL Draft.
2010-11: Houser attended the Vancouver Canucks training camp before returning to London for his second OHL season. Taking over as the Knights’ starter, he played 54 games and was 30-24 with five losses in overtime. He had one shutout and posted a 3.32 goals against and .904 save percentage. London finished fifth in the Midwest Division and Houser was 2-4 with a 2.71 goals against and .940 save percentage in the six-game playoff series with eventual OHL champion Owen Sound.
2011-12: Houser skated in the Flyers’ camp before returning to London for a third OHL season. He was named the CHL Goalie of the Year as the Knights captured the OHL championship and reached the Memorial Cup. Houser was 46-16 with six shutouts in 62 regular season games and had a 2.47 goals against and .925 save percentage. In 19 playoff games he was 16-3 with 1 shutout and had a 2.25 goals against and .928 save percentage. In four games at the Memorial Cup he was 2-2 and had a 2.58 goals against and .904 save percentage. Houser signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Panthers in July, 2012.
2012-13: Houser made the jump from juniors to pro hockey as a 20-year-old; playing for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Splitting time with former UNH goalie and fellow Panthers’ prospect Brian Foster during the regular season, he was 17-10-2 with 2 shutouts and had a 2.55 goals against and .917 save percentage in 29 games. Cincinnati finished first in the North Division and reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Houser started all 17 playoff games and was 9-8 with 1 shutout; posting a 2.24 goals against and .915 save percentage.
2013-14: Houser split his second pro season between Florida AHL affiliate San Antonio and the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. In 28 games for the Rampage he was 12-13-1 with one shutout and had a 3.05 goals against and .903 save percentage. San Antonio missed the AHL playoffs after finishing last in the West Division. Houser was with Cincinnati in the middle of the season and was 5-6-1 with one shout, posting a 2.24 goals against and .924 save percentage. He was not with Cincinnati during it’s playoff run to the Kelly Cup finals.
2014-15: Houser played for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage in his third pro season, sharing the goaltending duties with long-time NHL goalie Dan Ellis. In 37 regular season games he was 19-9-4 with two shutouts and had a 2.83 goals against and .900 save percentage. The Rampage finished first in the West Division but were swept by Oklahoma City in a first-round series. Houser started one game, stopping 35 of 39 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss. He was not re-signed by the Panthers, becoming an unrestricted free agent.
2015-16: Houser signed an AHL contract with Kings’ affiliate Ontario, playing six games with the Reign and playing for the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs. After starting the year with the Monarchs he was recalled by Ontario when the team released Ray Emery. Veteran Peter Budaj played in 60 of 68 regular season games and Houser was 1-4-0 with a 2.43 goals against and .903 save percentage. The Reign finished first in the Pacific Division, advancing to the Western Conference finals against Lake Erie. Houser was 104-2 with a 2.68 goals against and .912 save percentage in 16 games with the Monarchs.
Houser’s determination, effort and work ethic were well-established during his junior career. The former CHL Goaltender of the Year plays an aggressive style in the net and makes big saves by using his excellent reads. Though not as tall as the current NHL goaltender model, he battles with the best of them and makes up for physical limitations with superb concentration and a calm demeanor.
Houser appeared in six AHL games in 2015-16 as Peter Budaj played in 60 of 68 games for Kings' AHL affiliate Ontario and had started every playoff game heading into the Western Conference finals. Houser played well with the ECHL's Manchester Monarchs. The 23-year-old will head into his fifth pro season looking to secure an NHL contract but may have to continue toiling at the minor pro level or head to Europe.