Peterborough Petes rookie Michael Giugovaz is coming off an impressive week in the Ontario Hockey League.
By stopping 80 of 83 shots (and two more in a shootout) to win both his starts, the 17-year-old not only helped the Petes snap a five-game losing streak – all by one goal – and post their first back-to-back victories of the season, but Giugovaz was also named the Vaughn Goaltender of the Week for the entire Canadian Hockey League.
“It was a good week,” Giugovaz told InGoal of receiving the weekly honours. “I didn’t know that was going to happen, but it’s definitely a good feeling.”
Giugovaz, who was recently promoted to a B-rating in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings of players to watch for this year’s draft, started his week by making 18 of his 35 saves in the third period of a 3-1 win over the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday. He followed that up with 45 saves – and went two-for-two in the shootout – to beat the Oshawa Generals 3-2 on Sunday.
InGoal caught up with Giugovaz, who is now 4-2-2 and leads all OHL rookie goalies with a 3.39 goals-against average and .912 save percentage, after practice late Wednesday afternoon to talk about his great week and his first season in the OHL:
~ Let’s start by asking you to describe yourself as a goaltender and some of your background?
Giugovaz: “I’m a mix between a butterfly goalie and a hybrid. I love to compete on second, third, fourth shots, however many shots you put on me I am not going to give up on you. And I love handling the puck. I use a Turco grip – well, a bit of both actually, depending on how hard I want to pass the puck. Turco for the harder ones. It’s just a natural feeling for me. I train during the summers at Varsity Training Centre in my hometown of Brampton, and I’ve worked with ex-Leafs goalie coach Steve McKichan for about five years. He really keeps me in the zone and tells me when I am acting up and keeps me level headed.”
Giugovaz: When you talk about second, third and fourth chances, where does it go from good recovery technique to more of a pure battle for you?
Giugovaz: “Normally on your second shot you are able to recover properly just with a leg, but after that it’s game on, anything that you can do to keep that puck out of the net.”
~ How have you had to evolve moving up to the OHL after playing last season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and the year before that in Midget AAA in the Greater Toronto Hockey League?
Giugovaz:: “Every time you take a step in a new league, it’s learning. It takes a couple games to realize that the guys here, if someone is open backdoor, you know the puck is going to get there and you have to be on your toes and ready to react to everything. You’ve definitely got to be explosive and read the play and get a couple steps ahead of the game.”
~ What kind of things have you focussed on with Petes’ goaltending coach Andrew Verner, is it more technique or tactics?
Giugovaz:: “For sure it’s a lot of technical stuff. You don’t want to get too much into tactics because as soon as people start to figure you out, you are in for it. Just a lot of re-doing basic stuff, like controlling rebounds, battling all the time, and a lot of puck handling, trying to relieve some of he pressure off my defense, which means less shots and less shots is always better. Just a general clean up of my game.”
~ How much more important is that rebound control as you move up the ranks and does it change?
Giugovaz:: “Any time I can put the puck out of play or get a whistle is great for everybody. It gets us a line change and puts us in control of the game and just settles everything right down.”
~ So using your stick to direct low shots up and out of play?
Giugovaz:: “Yeah, the stick is always a good way, but on low shots trying to get your glove down on them also works, and anything in the middle part of your body has to be held onto. You can’t be spitting any of that out. Catching pucks even on low shots has been a part of my game for a little bit but I’m always trying to work on it. The Euro goalies are really good at doing that, getting their gloves down, and if you can keep the puck off your pads, why not? It’s a game of intelligence.”
[Editor’s note: check out our article on Nashville’s Pekka Rinne using his glove to take rebounds off pads away]
~ Coming off five-straight losses by a single goal as a team, what was your mindset going into the weekend, because there might be a tendency for some goaltenders to feel extra pressure to find that extra save and try to do too much themselves?
Giugovaz: “Just approach it the same way, stay focused and worry about your own job and if everyone worries about their own job then good things will happen. We were playing a lot of close games and ending up on the wrong side, and the team came to the conclusion that we’re just learning how to win and that it’s a great stepping stone for us.”
~ You made both saves in the shootout win over Oshawa, are there are tips you can share on shootouts or breakaways?
Giugovaz: “For any kid that gets in a shootout, as soon as the ref blows the whistle and that guy touches the puck, try to get out and really grab your ice as much as you can so that you are eliminating the shot and the guy is forced to deke. It’s easier to stop a deke than it is a shot, especially from guys who are not too far from playing in the NHL. A deke can only go to one side or the other, but a shot can go anywhere.”
Also considered for the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week award for the period ending Oct. 28 was Ty Rimmer of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who went 3-1-0-0 with a 1.25 goals-against-average and a .960 save percentage, and Philippe Cadorette of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who was 2-0-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .940 save percentage.
Past 2012-13 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week:
Oct. 15 – Oct. 21 : Jordon Cooke, Kelowna Rockets
Oct. 8 – Oct. 14 : Mac Carruth, Portland Winterhawks
Oct. 1 – Oct. 7 : Eetu Laurikainen, Swift Current Broncos
Sept. 24 – Sept. 30 : Sébastien Auger, Saint John Sea Dogs
Sept. 20 – Sept. 23 : John Gibson, Kitchener Rangers