It's a tricky situation to be in, but it's one Joel Grzybowski has been in before.
On Monday, the Saskatoon Blades released the 18-year-old netminder back to the Battlefords North Stars. He won a Canalta Cup championship with the North Stars last spring while splitting time with Taryn Kotchorek.
With rookie Kolby Matthews sporting an 8-1 record this year for Battlefords while Kotchorek was dealing with an injury, it means the team is now carrying three goaltenders.
"We've [now] got three really good goalies," North Stars head coach Brandon Heck said after practice on Tuesday. "We'll take our time and figure out what's best for the club regarding the three guys. We don't have a plan. We'll just take our time."
Last fall, Grzybowski returned from Blades training camp and found himself in a three-goalie situation as well, along with Kotchorek and Ryan Rewerts.
But Rewerts was released after he didn't register a win in three September starts.
Grzybowski and Kotchorek would then split time the entire season, including the playoffs, and the duo went on to post historically good numbers. The North Stars set a new SJHL record for lowest goals-against in a season with 103 goals allowed in 58 games (1.78 per game). Neither of them lost a playoff game either, as Battlefords went 12-0 and won their first championship since 2000.
After practice Tuesday, Grzybowski said it felt good to be back.
"It's a great place to play," he said. "... it's an awkward situation coming back, but that's just hockey.
"[I'll] just play my game and I'll let the decision fall on the coaches."
Heck said Grzybowski's reputation excites the coaching staff.
"I heard a ton of good things about him from not only teammates, but the board members and people in the community," Heck said. "I'm excited to see what he can do."
Grzybowski was only given one start with the Blades this season, but also appeared in four games in relief. He had an .843 save percentage in those appearances.
"Taking away from my relief jobs, I got to see some really good shooters, like [Tyler] Steenbergen, he's got 20-something goals in the league, [and Aleksi] Heponiemi," Grzybowski said. "Just facing those kind of shooters was great."
Grzybowski will join the North Stars on their upcoming five-day road trip, which kicks off on Wednesday with a game in Wilcox against the Notre Dame Hounds.
Puck drop for NorSask North Stars hockey is 8 p.m., and the Ultra-Print pre-game show begins at 7:45.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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