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Abbotsford goalies challenged to step up

It doesn’t happen too often that coaches in developmental leagues call out their goalies in the media, but Jim Playfair, coach of the Abbotsford Heat, did just that a week ago today.

It’s buried at the bottom of this article in the Abbotsford News, but it’s damning all the same:

Not to be forgotten in the aftermath of the thrilling comeback was the fact that the Heat’s goaltending situation remains a question mark. Playfair gave Keetley a vote of confidence last Saturday, anointing him the team’s No. 1 goaltender after the third-year pro backstopped Abbotsford to four consecutive victories.

But Playfair ended up pulling Keetley twice in the past week – in the second period of an eventual 4-3 OT loss to the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday, and again on Saturday – prompting the Heat head coach to issue a challenge to his netminding tandem.

“I’m getting sick of changing goaltenders,” Playfair said. “I expect one of these guys to get real serious about their careers and to make a heavy push for wanting the responsibilities of the No. 1 goaltender. Other than Keetley in the Texas series (last weekend), I think both goaltenders have been average, and that’s not good enough.”

As for Keetley’s emotional stick-snapping display, Playfair said it was a case of too little, too late.

“Show me some emotion, but do it in the game when you can do something about it,” the Heat head coach said.

Leland Irving, who leads the team with 30 starts to Keetley’s 18, didn’t so much answer the bell as completely ignore it in a 7-1 shellacking on home ice Friday night after a long All Star Game break. He drops to 11-15-2 with a GAA of 2.68 and a .909 save percentage, as his team allowed the Houston Aeros to convert on 5 of 7 power play opportunities.

Keetley is a slightly better 8-5-1 with a 2.57 GAA and .917 save percentage.

Both tenders are Calgary Flames draft picks, Irving being a first round pick and Keetly a fifth-rounder.

(H/T to Andrew Ferraro at The Third Intermission for this story)

Matt Keetley is screened by
Houston Aeros winger Colton Gillies
Photo by Jason Villanueva

About The Author

Heather Galindo

I cover the AHL Houston Aeros for, which has focused my passion for goaltending on minor league goalies mainly in the AHL. To stay abreast of every last drop of AHL goalie news, follow me at @InGoalMagAHL on Twitter while the big news, analysis, etc. will be posted here at I was so inspired by watching the goalies here in Houston a few years ago that I went out and learned to skate and play hockey in order to become a goalie myself. So far I'm still more sieve than goalie, but I've never had more fun being so terrible at something!