Edmonton’s Jordan Papirny, a first-round pick from the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, is trying to become the first 16-year-old goaltender to make the Brandon Wheat Kings in 22 years. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Jordan Papirny has already made history with the Brandon Wheat Kings once, and he’s looking at doing it again.
The Edmonton native became the first goalie ever selected by the Wheat Kings in the first round of a Western Hockey League Bantam Draft when he was selected 22nd overall last year. Now he’s trying to become the first 16-year-old netminder to crack Brandon’s roster since Byron Penstock played 35 games between the pipes during the 1990-91 season.
That won’t be an easy task with Corbin Boes and Curtis Honey returning to Brandon for their 19- and 18-year-old seasons, respectively. Papirny knows the task that lies ahead of him, but he’s made a case to stay with the club during rookie camp this week. He’s looking forward to showing even more starting today once the veterans take the ice as well.
"I think I have a little more to put down on the table and obviously that’s going to come out in the next couple days as we move forward. We’ll see how that goes," he said. "I just have to stay focused. If I stay focused, I’ll be playing my game. I have to be aware of where everyone is on the ice. That’s a huge thing to taking the next step is the right guys will crawl in back door and you have to be able to have that much speed to get across to know when it is."
Papirny had a solid season with Edmonton’s South Side Athletic Club Midget AAA team last season. He posted an .871 save percentage and a 3.76 goals-against average in 20 games.
He was called up for two games with the Wheat Kings when Boes — who posted a .916 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA — broke his hand during an Alberta road trip in December. Papirny didn’t play in either game, but he believes he learned from his time with the major junior club.
"It was a great experience and I took everything in," he said. "I didn’t get to play, obviously, but I got to see what it was like on the road with the guys and I got to meet everyone and it was great."
The 6-foot-0, 175-pound goalie came into rookie camp confident and he’s been impressive.
Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon likes how much Papirny has developed since he was drafted last year. He’s waiting to see what kind of a statement he’ll make on the ice during main camp and the pre-season.
"In Jordan’s case, we haven’t kept 16-year-old goaltenders very often but we’ve never drafted a goaltender as high as we have with Jordan either," he said. "He’s an elite player at his position and with Jordan, it’s going to come down to what’s the right timing. Is it now? Is he going to be able to make enough of an impression where he forces our hand this year or is it a situation where his development might be best served with a year in midget or Junior A before coming back next year? Those are the questions we’ll answer over the next while."
Papirny knows what’s at stake this fall, and he’s going to do everything he can to battle for a roster spot.
"I got a great opportunity here and I’m not going to let it slip," he said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 31, 2012