Vancouver Province article (Tending to Giant business)November 18 2011 at 7:32 AM
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Tending to Giant business
New goalie could make a huge difference to Vancouver
By Steve Ewen, The Province
November 18, 2011 4:06 AM
Vancouver Giants goalie Adam Morrison is in line for his seventh straight start if he gets the nod for the game against the Victoria Royals tonight at the Pacific Coliseum.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch - PNG, The Province
Adam Morrison could be a Buddy Holly stunt double.
The big, black horn-rim specs can do that. The Vancouver Giants netminder could also play a young Colonel Sanders, what with his penchant for bow ties, sweaters and fancy white dress shoes and the swoop he can get in his hair. Put him in a ball hat, sweatshirt and jeans and he looks like any old teacher's assistant in your standard university.
Talking to him is the same. At first conversation, he's soft-spoken and thoughtful. He doesn't come across as only 20. Talk to him some more, and it's quickly apparent he's not afraid to poke fun at himself either; back when he was a rail-thin rookie, a trainer thought he looked like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons cartoon and, sure enough, Morrison has a likeness on his facemask.
Speak to anyone around the team, you'll find out that Morrison isn't afraid to chastise a teammate about not putting the club first. For instance, he scolded a sophomore winger for not coming to the aid of Brendan Gallagher when the Giants' sniper was getting manhandled after the whistle in front of the opponents' net last week, and he took a rookie defenceman to task for cutting corners during a drill earlier this week at practice.
He's hard to categorize. Morrison, one of the keys in any playoff success that Vancouver might have this campaign, is multi-layered.
"In our past experience, a lot of the really good goalies are," said Craig Oster, a player agent. "They're complex people."
Oster's a tad biased here. He works for Newport Sports Management, the Mississauga, Ont., firm fronted by Don Meehan and Pat Morris, and he's represented Morrison for nearly four seasons.
Oster will try to land Morrison some sort of free-agent deal with an NHL team in the coming few months. The White Rock native had been drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of 2009, but Philadelphia gave up Morrison's rights when he hadn't signed a contract by last June.
Morrison had played only 13 games in 2008-09 with the Saskatoon Blades, but the Flyers looked at how quickly Steve Mason had burst onto the NHL scene with the Columbus Blue Jackets after playing just 12 games with the London Knights in 2005-06 and going in the third round of the 2006 draft, and wondered if Morrison could do the same.
Morrison did attend a couple of Philly camps and there was some contract talk according to Oster, but, in the end, the Flyers didn't feel he warranted a space with them.
"The disappointment of not being able to convince Philadelphia to offer me a contract was hard, but I know I have the ability," said the 6-foot-3, 194-pound Morrison. "That's half the battle."
Coincidently, the Flyers drafted another WHL goalie, Jacob De Serres of the Seattle Thunderbirds, with their third-round pick in 2008, and didn't end up signing him. De Serres was shuttled out of Seattle and then through the Brandon Wheat Kings, and was waived right through the WHL at the start of last season.
He eventually signed on with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and promptly turned into a star, leading them to the Memorial Cup national title.
That was the first comparison Giants general manager Scott Bonner brought up when he dealt winger Michael Burns, defenceman Zach Hodder and a fourth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft to the Blades for Morrison and winger Levi Bews in early October.
Vancouver had found their goaltending to that point wanting.
"That's the year I'm gunning to recreate," said Morrison. "We're trying to simplify my game and be as consistent as possible to build a foundation for the postseason."
Morrison had a 44-22-1-5 record with the Blades over three seasons, but he's yet to step on the ice for a WHL playoff game.
A concussion and a bout with mono played a role in that, but so did Saskatoon coach Lorne Molleken favouring Steven Stanford at crunch time.
Stanford graduated from the WHL after last season, and, oddly enough, is now playing across town from Morrison with the UBC Thunderbirds.
Saskatoon brought in Russian phenom Andrey Makarov, 18, and Morrison became expendable.
He hasn't looked back. He hasn't had time. Morrison made 10 straight starts upon joining Vancouver. Back-up Jackson Whistle had one start, and Morrison will make his seventh in a row this time if he gets the nod tonight against the Victoria Royals (7: 30 p.m., AM 650) at the Pacific Coliseum.
His best for consecutive starts in Saskatoon was eight, which happened last year.
"It puts a lot of confidence in my game," said Morrison, who is 11-3-0-1, with a 2.43 goals against and a .906 save percentage with Vancouver. "This is what I've been working toward my whole career."
That might explain the leadership. When asked about when the last time they had a player so willing to be so blunt, team brass point to Mark Fistric. In Giant land, that's hallowed ground, since the Dallas Stars defenceman was Vancouver's first-ever bantam pick and captained their 2005-06 WHL championship side, the first one in team history.
"I don't like to do it to guys off the ice at all," said Morrison. "In a game, I'm a pretty competitive guy. I just want to see the team succeed."
Defenceman Neil Manning, another of the team's overages, added: "He's gained respect from his play, and, once you do that, you have ability to help the team out in different ways."
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