It’s always a bizarre dynamic.
Two goaltenders, teammates on the same team, are supposed to get along. Often-times, they become the best of buddies.
Yet every day at practice, they’re expected to compete — to treat each other as foes to be defeated.
As Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic said last week, his goalies have to fight for every inch of the goal crease.
The winner plays.
The loser sits, and you’d think that would make it hard for two keepers to be friends.
Yet goalies make it work.
“You sit here and think, ‘He’s taking my ice time and standing in the way of my scholarship, but at the same time we’re very close and that’s the way I like it,” the veteran said. “There’s friendly competition, but us being close is better for the team. When they see there’s no tension between us, they know they can go to war with either of us.”
Pelino is going through a rough patch right now, and rock bottom may have occurred last weekend in an 8-7 overtime win over Trail.
The BCHL rookie fought the puck all night, with Jacobson watching from the bench.
“The one thing I’ve learned over the years is to be very positive and helpful to your goalie partner, and I really wanted him to win that game,” he said. “You never want to be in that type of game, but I was so proud to see him battle through and have the team win.”
Jacobson came to the Chiefs on trade deadline day in early January, signed out of the USHL to play alongside incumbent stopper Aidan Pelino.
He’s 20 years old, where Pelino is 19.
And listening to Jacobson speak, it’s clear he didn’t come here to be a backup.
“I’ve been in the USHL for three years now, and at the Christmas break my team wasn’t in a playoff spot,” he explained. “I don’t have a scholarship yet, so I needed to come to a place that was going to be in the playoffs. I heard good things about the BCHL and my coach presented this opportunity to come up here.”
“I jumped on it right away and I’m glad to be here because my season is extended,” he continued. “Instead of ending in April there’s the potential now for me to be playing through the end of May.”
This kid has clearly defined goals.
The California kid, has experienced an uneven start to his BCHL stint, winning two and losing three.
He’s been outstanding at times, like when he stopped 30 of 32 shots Jan. 16 to help Chilliwack steal a win from the Victoria Grizzlies.
Last weekend those same Grizzlies tagged him for five goals in a 6-1 loss.
“You try to put those behind you, take what you can out of the bad games and the good games and move forward,” he said. “We’ve got about 15 games to go, and they’re all very important.”
His 3.30 goals-against average and .897 save percentage leave room for improvement and hint at the adjustments any goalie must make coming to a new league.
“What’s stood out right away is how much flow there is in the BCHL game where there aren’t too many stoppages and everything is quick in transition,” Jacobson said. “In the USHL everything was hard-nosed dump-and-chase where this league has a lot of offence and skill. You have to always be engaged in the game because things can change in a second.”
Big (six-foot-one) and quick, with a knack for handling the puck, Jacobson has received interest from college/university programs. But he’s yet to experience a full-court press from a school that really wants him, and Jacobson hopes a strong postseason catapults him to the next level.
“If you can pick up a team and carry them on your back, that’s where you show how dominant you can be,” the stopper said. “I’ve talked to schools but I’m not in a rush. I’m waiting for the right opportunity to be at the school I want to be at and the school that wants me.”
— If head coach Jason Tatarnic is concerned about Pelino’s recent struggles, he isn’t letting on.
“Every goalie goes through a bad stretch, no different than any other player,” he said. “The only difference is it’s more noticeable with goalies. I’ve just shared with them that when they do let a bad one in, they just have to put it behind them and stop the next one.”
Bad as the numbers were in Pelino’s last two outings (12 goals against), Tatarnic saw the mental toughness he looks for.
“I thought Aidan did that against Trail, making an important save once the game was tied,” the coach said. “That save gave us the chance to win in OT. Same against Cowichan where he made some big saves when it was 5-5, giving us the chance to win.”
The Chiefs have just one game this weekend, but it’s a big one.
The Prince George Spruce Kings are at Prospera Centre tonight (Friday, 7 p.m.), looking to make the Mainland division a three team race.
The third place Sprucies are eight points back of the first place Chiefs with a game in hand.
A head to head win puts PG in the mix with Chilliwack and the second place Langley Rivermen.
Find more BCHL info online at bchl.ca