By Trevor Howlett, Fort McMurray Today
The Alberta Junior Hockey League announced its 2014 League Award winners Monday and Fort McMurray Oil Barons goaltender Tanner Jaillet was named Top Goaltender. Jaillet is tied for the best save percentage in the AJHL and currently leads the league with six shutouts on the season.
“I'm pretty excited about it, it's really nice to get,” said Jaillet. “It wasn't something I was really focused on all year, I was just trying to have a consistent season and it worked out pretty well.”
The 20-year-old netminder is the fifth goaltender in Barons' history to win the award. Jaillet committed to the University of Denver in December and was also a finalist for the League MVP, which eventually went to Trey Phillips of the Canmore Eagles. Oil Barons head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau said he's happy to see Jaillet get recognized for his outstanding play this season.
“Well deserved,” said Thibodeau. “He's been consistent, he's been outstanding all year. Obviously he's been the backbone of our hockey team for much of the season. He's in his third year here and he's worked out beyond what we thought he'd be. I'm very pleased for him to get the recognition; I'm not sure that he got a lot the first two years when maybe he deserved more. But it's always nice to have your peers and the rest of the league recognize that you've had a great year.”
Jaillet currently boasts a .933 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average, along with a record of 29-8-4. The Red Deer native was named AJHL player of the month in September and was also the Canadian Junior Hockey League's first star for the month of September. Thibodeau said Jaillet has been the Barons' most valuable player this year and had a big role in helping the Barons start the season on an 18-game unbeaten streak.
“We've had some great performances by a lot of players but I think if you look back at the start of the year and that streak, we're nowhere near that possibility unless he's playing on his game, “ said Thibodeau. “ As much as we've been a pretty consistent team all year, we've also had outings where we needed him to save us and he's been a strong link back there to keep us in games and get us wins.”
This is not the first AJHL award for Jaillet. In his rookie season he shared the AJHL's Top Team Goaltenders Award with Brody Hoffman. In three seasons with the Oil Barons, Jaillet has amassed a record of 66-27-10.
Photo credit: Dan Lines