|With saves like this, Cole Cheveldave gave the Kamloops Blazers|
solid goaltending as a freshman last season.
(Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
Cole Cheveldave has yet to feel the draft, but he’s working hard not to let it bother him.
Cheveldave was never selected in the WHL draft, so the feeling wasn’t new to him when he wasn’t taken in the NHL’s 2012 draft.
It actually was his second trip through the NHL draft. In 2011, he was coming off a season that earned him AJHL rookie-of-the-year honours after going 16-20-6 with a 2.90 GAA and a .917 save percentage with the Drumheller Dragons.
For the NHL’s 2012 draft, Cheveldave was fresh off a glorious season with the Kamloops Blazers, one in which he went 36-11-5, 2.62 and .909.
A teammate, left-winger Tim Bozon, was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year. It just as easily could have been Cheveldave. In fact, you could have made a case for Cheveldave as the conference’s player of the year, such was his impact on the Blazers.
After all, all he did was stop pucks, and isn’t that the name of the game?
“That’s hockey,” the 19-year-old Calgarian says of not being drafted. “I have to keep working. It’s not over yet.”
Ask him why he thinks the NHL’s 30 teams bypassed him, and he shrugs.
“Nowadays they’re drafting big, big boys,” he says, before adding: “With my game, I’m stopping just as many pucks as them.”
Following the 2011-12 season, InGoal Magazine reported the average NHL goaltender stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 197 pounds.
Cheveldave is 5-foot-10 and 173 pounds.
“It’s a little bit weird,” Cheveldave says. “I just have to keep pushing. My dream is still reachable to me.”
Ironically, one of the goaltenders Cheveldave beat out in the Blazers’ training camp a year ago was 6-foot-7 Troy Trombley, a third-round pick by the Blazers in the 2009 bantam draft. Trombley, now 18, attended camp with the Everett Silvertips and was their third goaltender before being assigned to the SJHL's Melville Millionaires.
Cheveldave obviously is a believer in the adage that it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
“When I came to camp last year, in my mind, I had to earn that No. 1 position and take that No. 1 position,” Cheveldave says.
And that is exactly what he did. The Blazers opened the season with three goaltenders, the other two being Cam Lanigan and Taran Kozun. But it wasn’t long before Kozun was with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks and Lanigan had a seat on the Blazers’ bench.
“This year,” Cheveldave says, “I have to hold that No. 1 position and keep playing like I’m not guaranteed that it’s mine.”
Early last season Blazers head coach Guy Charron began talking about Cheveldave’s work ethic, about how hard the kid works in practice and how he never, ever gives up on pucks.
On the eve of his second season as the club’s starter, Cheveldave’s attitude hasn’t changed.
“If I’m not pushing myself every day,” he explains, “I could very well end up on the bench and watch (Kozun) take my spot.”
Backed by Cheveldave, last season’s Blazers won the B.C. Division pennant and reached the second round of the playoffs. They are going to need more of the same if they are to continue along that road.
“We have to bring the same if not more energy and intensity,” Cheveldave says. “There’s going to be teams gunning for us and we need to stay on the top. There are teams gunning for us . . . we’re not an underdog.”
That doesn’t bother him at all; in fact, he’s smiling when he says it.
And he’s smiling when he adds, “I enjoy the pressure.”
He deals with that pressure through game-day preparation.
Through trial and error, he has developed a system that includes lots of visualization that he feels helps him get the best results.
Before every game, he sits under a Blazers logo that adorns a wall just outside the team’s dressing room.
“I go through saves,” he says. “I have a highlight reel in my head that I play over before a game. It helps me get pumped up.”
He also prefers to be left alone during that time.
“Before a game I don’t talk to anybody,” he explains. “The last 45 minutes before a game it’s my time. I’ve tried other ways but that’s the way I prepare the best.”
Hey, who’s to argue with the results?
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