He’s never seen the movie Slap Shot, but he has faced plenty of them.
Imperial, Saskatchewan’s Connor Ingram is the lone player from the province to make Canada’s World Junior team.
The Kamloops Blazers goalie joins Carter Hart as the two goaltenders on the Canadian team, and is a 3rd round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s every kid’s dream and to be the only guy from Saskatchewan, it’s exciting,” said Ingram on Hockey Talk Saskatchewan.
Surprisingly, the only member of the Canadian coaching staff from Saskatchewan, Kris Knoblauch, also hails from Imperial, a town between Regina and Saskatoon with a population of just 350 people.
“It’s gotta be some sort of per-capita record,” said Ingram. “We have been talking about the rink back in Imperial and how we need to get the senior team (the Imperial Sabres) a new dressing room.”
That’s not all Ingram wants to do for his hometown. The WHL’s leader in save percentage (.935) is hoping Imperial’s welcome sign will soon read ‘Home of World Junior Gold Medalist Connor Ingram’.
“We always joke that you haven’t made it until you get a ‘home of’ sign,” said Ingram. “It would be amazing to win and I think the whole town would go nuts.”
Completing the goaltending duo with Ingram is Everett Silvertips goalie Carter Hart. The two netminders’ friendly rivalry for playing time adds on to their battle among the WHL’s stat columns. Hart is second, behind Ingram, in save percentage (.928) and leads the WHL in goals-against-average (1.85). Ingram is tied for second (2.12).
“There’s a special bond with goalies and we’re just trying to help each other out.”
Canada will need its goaltenders to bring their ‘A’ game as they look to recover from an early exit in 2016. Ingram believes this group can get the job done and put the country back on top.
“We have a close team and Hockey Canada did a good job of getting us familiar with the summer camp and lots of the guys played together at U-17 and U-18,” said Ingram.
While many in Kamloops and Saskatchewan know about Ingram, he is hoping a strong showing at the World Juniors will be a chance to impress his country and his NHL club.
“It’s hopefully something that opens the door for my career wherever it may take me.”
And wherever it takes him, Ingram already has an idea of what life will be like when the dream comes to an end.
“Maybe retire back to the Sabres and hang around with Mom and Dad for a couple of years.”
*650 CKOM and 980 CJME will broadcast all of Canada’s games at the World Juniors. Click here for the schedule.