One of the bigger questions for the Winnipeg Jets heading into the 2015-16 season is who will grab the starter’s role in goal and run with it.
Ondrej Pavelec began the 2014-15 season as the Jets’ No. 1 goaltender starting 15 of the first 16 games. He started sharing the net with rookie Michael Hutchinson in late November and lost his starting role by February.
“Ondrej played through some difficult circumstances this year,” Cheveldayoff said per the Winnipeg Sun. “Pro athletes have to learn how to handle those kinds of adversities.”
Pavelec finished the season with a 22-16-8 record while posting a career-best .920 save percentage and a 2.28 G.A.A. in 50 regular season appearances. While the Jets were in the hunt for a playoff spot, Pavelec went 9-2-1 and recorded three shutouts in his final 12 decisions. The 27-year-old struggled again in the playoffs posting an .891 save percentage and a 3.73 G.A.A. as the Jets were swept by the Anaheim Ducks.
Hutchinson finished with 38 appearances last season posting a 21-10-5 record to go along with a 2.39 G.A.A. and .914 save percentage. The 25-year-old had a strong first half, but faltered down the stretch posting an .890 save percentage in his final 15 games.
Despite the inconsistencies, Cheveldayoff believes the Pavelec can be the team’s starter going forward.
“We’re excited to have him as our No. 1 goalie,” Cheveldayoff said during his end-of-season media availability. “We’re really excited to have (Hutchinson) as a guy that can push and continue to do the things that he’s done.”
Jets fans should also expect Connor Hellebuyck to challenge Hutchinson for the backup role at camp this season. Hellebuyck posted a 28-22-5 record to go along with a 2.58 G.A.A. and a .921 save percentage in his rookie season with the St. John’s IceCaps.
The 22-year-old was the starting goaltender at the AHL all-star game and represented the U.S. at the world championship leading the Americans to a third place finish.
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For the second time in three years the Americans will take home a bronze medal from the World Hockey Championship.
Nick Bonino, Trevor Lewis and Charlie Coyle had the goals.
Connor Hellebuyck made 39 saves for the shutout as the Americans defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.
The Czech Republic had plenty of opportunities to solve Hellebuyck including a four-minute power play in the second period.
The hosts also out-shot the Americans 16-1 in the third, but could not find the back of the net.
Bonino scored the eventual game-winner at 7:14 of the first period putting home the rebound off of Brock Nelson’s shot for his second goal of the tournament.
Ondrej Pavelec made 13 saves in the loss.
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Newly-signed Blackhawks and Team Russia forward Artemi Panarin had some choice words for his upcoming semifinal opponent at the World Hockey Championships, after dispatching of Sweden on Thursday:
Russia advanced to face the U.S. on the strength of a 5-3 win quarterfinal against the Swedes, in which Panarin failed to score — a rarity for the 23-year-old, who has five goals and 10 points through eight games this tournament.
Regarded as one of the most skilled players in the KHL, Panarin signed a two-year pact with Chicago on May 1 and is expected to be with the team to start next season. That deal, combined with his scoring exploits at the Worlds, could be why he’s brimming with confidence heading into the semis; Panarin is also likely pleased that Washington captain Alex Ovechkin will join Team Russia in time for Saturday’s tilt against the U.S., which you can watch on NBCSN.
As for the “college kids” comment… Panarin is (presumably) referring to the four NCAA products currently suiting up for Team USA: Jack Eichel (Boston University), Jimmy Vesey (Harvard), Mike Reilly (University of Minnesota) and Dylan Larkin (University of Michigan.) Yale goalie Alex Lyon is also on the squad, but has yet to play and sits third on the depth chart behind Jack Campbell and Connor Hellebuyck.