Moodie shows growth
By Daniel Nugent-bowman, The StarPhoenix
May 26, 2012
As Alex Moodie prepares to step onto the ice this morning for another spring camp with the Saskatoon Blades, he has his first experience from 2010 in mind.
"I remember going into a meeting right off the start and seeing all of the veteran players there," the 17-year old goaltender said. "I was a lot smaller than I am now. It was intimidating seeing them, but it really showed me how much I had to work to get up to that level and pace where they were."
Having actually experienced that pace for a month this past season, Moodie is no longer playing the part of the intimidated youngster.
With 13 WHL games already under his belt, the 6-foot-1, 161-pound netminder is now the veteran - at least in terms of the 29 prospects attending the orientation camp this weekend.
Although a non-competitive environment, Moodie wants to leave a good impression heading into training camp in August when he'll be vying for the backup position behind Andrey Makarov.
"I want to work the hardest that I can to make sure I can get that spot," he said. "I've been working really hard with my goalie coach and trainer to make sure that, once I get to camp, I'm in tip-top shape and playing the best to my ability."
A fifth-round pick in the 2010 WHL bantam draft, Moodie was called up from the Winnipeg Wild midget AAA team last December when starter Makarov left for Calgary to play for Russia's world junior team.
He served as Adam Todd's backup Dec. 27 against Edmonton only to enter the game in the third period of the 7-2 loss.
Two nights later he was given the start in Prince Albert. Although the Blades fell 5-2, Moodie never relinquished the net.
When Makarov sustained a concussion in his return from the world juniors on Jan. 7, Moodie played in nine more contests. He finished his WHL audition at 9-3 with a 3.42 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage before being sent back to the Wild.
Moodie then completed an 18-1-1 regular season campaign with the Wild - posting a 1.79 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage and three shutouts - guiding them to a semifinal appearance in the Telus Cup Western Regional AAA championship.
"Just being able to play those 13 straight games was the biggest confidence booster anyone could ever get," Moodie said.
The highlight for Moodie was his first start after Makarov's injury when he made 37 saves in a 2-0 victory in Brandon. The Winnipeg native had plenty of family and friends in attendance to witness the historic moment.
The shutout was the first by a Blade during the 201112 season and the first ever by a 16-year-old in club history. He also became the first Saskatoon goalie to blank a Brandon Wheat Kings team on the road since his goalie coach, Ryan Cyr, did so in 2004-05.
"We joked about that a few times," Moodie said. "He was the first one to tell me. He was like, 'You and I are clicking together.'"
Backed by the guidance of Cyr, who doubles as the goalie coach for the Spokane Chiefs, Moodie hopes to continue to improve this summer to the point where he's a full-time Blade in the fall. If that happens, Moodie will likely see more time on the bench than he's accustomed to with Makarov getting the majority of the workload.
With the Blades hosting the Memorial Cup next May, Moodie is eager to help out any way he can.
"It's totally fine because you get to learn from such a prestigious goalie like Andrey is," he said. "Even when you get your chances - this year was a perfect example - you have to take advantage of it.
"You always have to be playing sharp and being ready to go in just like when Andrey got hurt."
Moodie is expected to be challenged for the backup job by Todd and Patrick Johnson. Todd backed up Makarov last season and went 1-4 with a 5.17 goals-against average and a .852 save percentage before a concussion shelved him for the playoffs.
Johnson, who played for the SJHL's Kindersley Klippers, sat on the bench in the playoffs.
Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken said Todd is now fully recovered from his head injury. Molleken added that no player evaluations will be made until the August main camp.
Instead, he's more concerned with the prospects' fitness testing and, in a case like Moodie, how they display leadership for the bantams chosen in the draft earlier this month.
"I think that the players that have been here and have been through this in the past, they need to make the younger guys feel part of it," Molleken said. "That's what it's all about."
While a permanent job on the Blades is his long-term goal, Moodie is ready for a leadership role at the orientation camp.
Moodie missed last year's sessions because he was attending Manitoba's under-17 selection camp, but knows how daunting the weekend can be.
"You really want to help them out because they're in the exact same spot you were in where they're really nervous," he said. "They don't know what to expect, so you just try to calm them down and show them that you just do what you do before you got drafted."
BLADE BITS: The Blades prospects receive a tour of Marion Graham Collegiate this morning before stepping on the ice at Schroh Arena at 10: 30 a.m.
They'll then be put through the paces of a fitness test and end the day by attending a barbecue hosted by some of the current Blades. The players also take to the ice tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
dnugent-bowman @thestarphoenix.com Twitter.com/DNBsports
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