When Eric Comrie was spurned by Team Canada for the World Junior Championship, he put his efforts into what he could control.
The Tri-City Americans netminder was named the Western Hockey League goaltender of the month for January after posting an 8-2-0-1 record, along with a 1.35 goals against average, a .962 save percentage and one shutout.
“We’ve known what he could do since he was 16 years old,” said Americans coach Jim Hiller. “A lot has been said about Eric. All I can add is we have had him since 15 and he gets better, and better and better. It’s been months, days and years, but he continues to get better. That’s the most important thing here.”
Comrie, 18, allowed one or less goals in eight of his 11 games, while facing an average of 35 shots per game. He allowed just 15 goals on 393 shots. He stopped all 43 of Vancouver’s shots on Jan. 19 for his seventh career shutout.
“I couldn’t have done it without the guys,” said Comrie, who is 23-17-2-3 this season. “It really helps that we have our whole team back. In December, I looked around the room one time and I saw one familiar face. I thought, ‘oh man, this is going to be a tough one.’ Now, all of our guys are back in the lineup and it just sparks our whole team. We are rejuvenated. It’s so much fun to come to the rink. When we go out and did what we did in January, our record speaks for itself.”
A second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2013 NHL draft, Comrie helped the Americans to the seventh-best record (8-4-0-1) of any WHL team in the month of January. In that run, the Americans won seven games in a row at home, had a four-game win streak and earned points in six consecutive games.
“We are five points out of sixth place,” Comrie said. “That speaks to how far we have come with the losing streak (seven games) and the injuries. We deserve it. The Americans have been a premier franchise in the Western Hockey League for years and will be for years to come.”
This is Comrie’s second year as a starter, but he was shelved last season in late January with a hip injury. He had the first of two hip surgeries a year ago today.
“A year ago, I’m in a hospital in Colorado,” Comrie said. “I’m happy to be here. I feel good and I love to come to the rink every day. It’s been a fun 2014 so far.”
On the season, Comrie ranks second among WHL goalies with Edmonton’s Tristan Jarry with a 2.29 GAA, is second with a .932 save percentage, second in minutes played (2,670) and second in saves (1,391).
“We don’t take him for granted,” said Tri-City defenseman Mitch Topping of Comrie. “He is arguably our best defenseman out there every night. It gives the D confidence when he keeps the pucks to the outside. He is a great guy and a great goalie. This is well deserved. He doesn’t like to take credit, he’s very humble. He has quite the future ahead of him.”
Comrie repaid the compliment.
“I’ve been playing with Mitch Topping, Justin Hamonic and Michal Plutnar for three years now and I know exactly what they are going to do when they go back for the puck,” Comrie said. “I know exactly how they are going to defend guys. It makes my job a lot easier when I know what to expect.”