Goaltender Mathieu Caron the backbone of 2018-19 Chilliwack Chiefs

With Daniel Chenard injured, the Abbotsford native is the clear No. 1 stopper for the junior A club.

Opening weekend for the 2018-19 season painted a picture of what life is going to be like for Mathieu Caron, at least in the short-term.

He is the unquestioned number one goaltender for a young team, full of players who are new to junior A hockey.

In weekend road games against the veteran-laden Prince George Spruce Kings, their inexperience revealed itself on the shot clock, as PG peppered Caron’s net with 79 pucks in 5-1 and 2-1 wins.

It’s likely to be that way most nights for Caron, until his teammates adapt to the pace of the league. It may take one month. Or two. Maybe even longer. But Caron is up for the challenge, determined to keep his crew competitive.

“There’s 15 or 16 guys who are new to this level, and it’s a huge step from where they were,” he noted. “There’s going to be a slight learning curve, but I’m very happy with the team we have and I’m expecting we’ll do a good job this year.

“I face a lot of shots in practice, so it’s not much different from that, and for the first few weeks there’s going to be a lot of learning and maybe a few more mistakes than we’re used to, but you’ve got to stay positive.

“One thing I am happy about is how hard working this group seems to be.”

Flashback to early last summer and Caron was one of two veteran goalies on the roster of the reigning RBC Cup champions.

A luxury for head coach Brian Maloney.

But the hip injury that nagged at Chenard through the entirety of his rookie year forced him into a tough decision.

Rather than limp through another campaign, he opted to have surgery, which will sideline him until December.

“I knew about the problems he had last season and because we’re good buddies who keep in contact, he texted me around mid-summer to let me know,” Caron explained. “It was obviously not the best injury for him to get, but it happens and I’m sure when he comes back he’ll be better than ever.”

Had Chenard been healthy, it’s possible that Caron might not be a Chief right now.

Both men are good enough to be be starters in the BCHL.

Either could have asked for a trade to a team where they could be the top dog, and Maloney would have accomodated their request.

“For sure, if either one of us really wanted to go somewhere and get that starting position somewhere else, then he was going to make that happen for us,” Caron said.

Last season helped Caron prepare for the increased workload he’s about to receive.

Chenard missed chunks of time in 2017-18, and Caron filled in admirably. Playing behind a team that was… spotty… defensively, the 18 year old posted a 2.66 goals-against average and .895 save percentage in 37 outings.

“I was one of the younger goalies in the league and it was a huge opportunity to step up and mature my game,” he said. “My biggest takeaway was the mental aspect and consistency.

“Towards the end of the season I was more calm and composed in the net, and I wasn’t as nervous before games. That’s what comes with the experience of playing back to back games and it prepared me well coming into this year.”

Caron took a couple weeks off after the season to recharge the batteries and ‘forget about hockey.’

Then it was right back to work.

He spent the summer working on his technique.

An athletic goalie with lighting-quick reflexes, the knock on him was that he was too excitable in the net, prone to overplaying the puck and leaving himself out of position.

“We (Caron and his goalie coaches) look at guys like Carey Price and top NHL guys, where you watch them play and they make it look easy,”Caron said. “I try to make the game look as easy as possible even though that’s the hardest part, and I think that’s the biggest difference in me since I came to Chilliwack is I’m more calm in the net.

“It’s interesting to see what happens this year, but I feel real confident in my game.”

Just Posted

Chilliwack launches study to evaluate seniors’ housing needs

Goal is to create diverse supply of safe, affordable housing for 55+ in Chilliwack

Sardis secondary alumni rally behind Sardis Strongman event

This year marks the 21st annual competition for students and fifth annual gathering of Sardis alums.

WATCH: All About Kids and Family Expo in Chilliwack

Fifth annual event had dozens of vendors for both children and adults at Chilliwack Heritage Park

PHOTOS: Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack

Family Day weekend powwow a colourful, vivid celebration of Indigenous culture

ACES grows the love of gardening with annual seed exchange

The event will be returning to Harrison Mills Community Hall on March 1

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

CRTC: Telecom industry using unacceptable sales tactics

Regulator held inquiry on sales practices of 12 Canadian providers of wireless and internet services

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

5 to start your day

The B.C. government released it’s 2019 budget, we break down snow removal per capita and more

Most Read