The original plan wasn't for Joel Grzybowski to start each and every game at the Western Canada Cup this past May for the Battlefords North Stars, but he did.
And the 17-year-old rookie ended up being the team's most consistent player throughout.
The talent he put on display several months ago already got him a long look with the Saskatoon Blades last fall, but now he's sticking with the Western Hockey League club for good, after the Blades cut their roster down to 26 players yesterday afternoon. Grzybowski and over-age starter Logan Flodell are the two goalies that remain.
There was a slight chance the Hafford, Sask. native would be returning to the Battlefords this season, but only if he were outplayed by 16-year-old Nolan Maier at training camp and in the WHL pre-season, a goalie who has a very bright future but came straight from the midget AAA ranks.
Grzybowski went 1-1 and posted a 2.69 goals-against-average and .900 save percentage in two pre-season games, while Maier posted an .894 save percentage in 142 minutes of action between the pipes over the span of three games.
In the end, Blades management went with the older of the two, meaing the North Stars won't have the same duo as last year.
Grzybowski landed on the SJHL all-rookie team in 2016-17 with a 21-4-1 record, 1.66 goals-against-average, and .935 save percentage. He then went 3-0 with a 2.09 goals-against-average and .930 save percentage in the team's Canalta Cup run.
This season, 20-year-old Taryn Kotchorek will instead be backed up by British Columbia native Kolby Matthews, who put up stellar numbers in midget AAA with the Vancouver NE Chiefs last season.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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