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Ian Scott wins opening game for Team WHL in Canada Russia Series

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Why’d they get rid of the “Super” in the title? That’s no fun.

Prince Albert Raiders v Kelowna Rockets
Prince Albert Raiders goalie Ian Sclott lines up to make a save.
Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Ian Scott and the WHL All-Star team took on Russia’s squad of the same age group in the annual CIBC Canada Russia Series. It used to be called the Canada Russia Super Series, but for some reason they dropped the super. They should probably add it back in so they can more accurately describe the performance of the Leafs’ best goalie prospect on Monday night in Kamloops. Yeah, I said it.

Scott has been utterly out of his mind for the #1 team in the Canadian Hockey League (16-1-0-0). If his ridiculous shot-stopping numbers didn’t already speak for themselves, Scott can also throw at you his hardware from the first month of the season. He won the second and fourth weeks’ WHL Goaltender of the Week awards, before taking home October’s biggest prize of Goaltender of the Month. On top of all that, he was one injury away from potentially being called up by the Leafs because at the time he was one of the few goalies the Leafs owned who could be signed to an NHL contract.

The Game

As you can see in the stats bar somewhere around this text, Scott and Team WHL defeated the Russians by a score of 2-1 in a tight, but at times sloppy first game of a double-header. Scott stopped 27 of 28 shots, with the only puck getting by him coming off the stick of Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen. Why does it always have to be the Bruins?

I’m not a goalie scouting expert, but I play one on TV, so instead of using a lot of words to describe Scott’s performance, I included as many clips of Scott’s play that stood out to me as I could. Shoutout to David Nestico for staying up late on a Monday night and GIFing some of those moments. These people who GIF games are so much faster than the average punter like myself.

I also included some great shot location charts that can be found at this link here. Every CHL game tracks these stats live and there is shot data for every WHL, OHL, or QMJHL game your heart desires.

First Period

The WHLers started the game off well. They drew a penalty in the early goings, keeping the puck away from Scott’s zone. It was at least six minutes into the period before Scott saw his first action with the puck. He isn’t much of a puck-handler. The most he will do is stop a puck in a nice spot for his skaters who are on the power play.

The 19-year-old Scott is listed as 6’3” and is able to cover both posts with his feet at the same time. To go along with that advantage, Scott works really hard to track the puck, he stays low and is always checking behind him in order to anticipate which side of the net the puck will emerge from.

1-0

The Russians took a second penalty, and Team WHL scored right as Russian captain Pavel Shen stepped out of the box. I’m sure Scott celebrated like he’s been here before. Not only is he on the 16-1-0-0 Prince Albert Raiders, and skated with the Calder Cup Champion Toronto Marlies last spring.

1-1

Unfortunately, Shen walked out on his next shift, beat everyone up the ice, and sniped low glove on Scott from distance. Scott definitely wasn’t used to the ferocity of the Russians’ shots, which is something that they’ve been famous for for decades. That goal was only the 25th shot Scott has let in all season.

After One

It was a pretty solid period for Scott and his fellow WHLers, all things considered. As you can see from the shot charts below, the WHLers were able to get lots of chances right in front of the net; they’ve definitely looked like the more dangerous team.

On the other side, Scott has been able to stop all the low-danger shots from the outside without much issue. The one goal he let in seems pretty obvious: that outlier right in the heart of the slot. There was one shot from closer in that hit the post in the first period that doesn’t show in the chart below. Beyond those two chances that were frankly wicked shots from the Russians, Scott hasn’t been tested all that much.

First Period shot charts between Team WHL (light red) and Russia (dark red)
CIBC Canada Russia Series: http://chlcanadarussia.ca/gamecentre/507/play_by_play

Second Period

Scott got into a spot of trouble at the end of Russia’s first power play opportunity. Of course it was because he left his crease to play the puck. Scott got stuck standing up with Russia forwards and Canadian defensemen all around him. Luckily the puck slid through the crease and out the other end. Scott then had to make a tough save off a tip in the slot.

Scott is very good positionally. He’s able to keep the puck in front of him very well, and corrals rebounds with a lot more confidence than what we saw in a young Garret Sparks. No offence to Sparks, even he would admit to being wild in his crease early in his career. He’s improved that aspect of his game a lot, and credit to him,

After Two

So that period was pretty boring when it came to action, but nine more shots on Scott to go along with the eight in the first period adds to the sample size with respect to the teenager’s play.

The Russians had two chances on the power play in that period and that, along with the WHLers playing in their own zone a little more than in the first, saw Scott face a lot of rubber. In terms of rebounds, Scott has done a great job at re-directing pucks to the corners or collecting them in his chest. Those two shots from in close on the chart below are from different events, so he really hasn’t allowed a rebound that led to a shot in this game yet. Watch me jinx it now. Sorry, Ian.

Second period shot charts between Team WHL (light red) and Russia (dark red)
CIBC Canada Russia Series: http://chlcanadarussia.ca/gamecentre/507/play_by_play

Sportsnet also did a nice highlight pack compiled of his first two period highlights for us. I had just uploaded the GIF to my laptop as David published his so I’ll give him the glory haha.

Third Period

Scott was a lot busier in the third period. The WHL defense started to wane, and the Russians really leaned into dogging the puck on the back-check. Scott really had to battle for those rebounds, but he stood tall and kept everything under control.

2-1

Jordy Bellerive put the WHL ahead by one mid-way through the third. The WHLers were really buzzing from the 15-minute mark onward. 2019 draft prospect Nolan Foote was on fire all game, and it was the momentum from his strong shift that translated into Bellerive eventually pot home Brett Leason’s pass from behind the net.

Team WHL held the fort from that point onward, and just as the Russians started to regain some momentum, Veniamin Baranov took an unfortunate high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone. From there, the WHLers closed out the period, and secured the first win in the CIBC Canada Russia Series. (Scotiabank better).

And here’s the shot chart from the third period, for continuity’s sake. Scott stopped a total of 27 shots he faced. Because it’s hard to tell where exactly the scoring chance zone is on these visuals, I’ll guess about nine of those 27 fell in dangerous scoring areas. Scott was 8/9 in those, which isn’t bad for a one-game sample that small.

Third period shot charts between Team WHL (light red) and Russia (dark red)
CIBC Canada Russia Series: http://chlcanadarussia.ca/gamecentre/507/play_by_play

Takeaways

  • Toronto’s young goalie is also very calm and composed for his age. Even in his first professional game with the Marlies last year, Scott showed poise all throughout the game as well as in the post-game scrum after. He noted that once the game gets going, “all those nerves tend to go away” and things start to feel like any normal hockey game. He also plays lots of Fortnite. Good lad!
  • Scott is very concise. He doesn’t move more than he needs to, and he doesn’t drift too far out of his crease very often at all. As I said in the recap, that style of play has really allowed him to control his rebounds and keep pucks from going places he doesn’t want to go. Paul Hendrick also mentions this in the one-on-one he did with the young goalie below.
  • When he was drafted, then Leafs drafting guru Mark Hunter said that he thought Scott’s “technique, size, and his side-to-side quickness was very good” for a 17-year-old prospect on a bad team. Fast forward a year and a bit, and Scott is still all of those things, but he’s improved on all the areas that made him special. He’s matured physically, his technique and movement remain key parts to his game, and he’s also improved his team to a very large degree.

Team WHL play once more, tonight at 10 p.m. our time, but David Tendeck will likely get the start.