Sam Brittain is coming! Sam Brittain is coming!
With 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom already anointed as the starting goaltender in waiting for the Florida Panthers, the Cats may have found themselves a quality backup plan in current University of Denver standout Sam Brittain.
A 4th round pick (92nd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Brittain, a Calgary, Alberta native, has transformed his game from pedestrian to superstar in his final season for the Denver Pioneers.
Roughly midway through his senior season, Brittain has gone from just another name to one of the top goaltenders in the entire NCAA. Though his 8-5-2 record doesn’t scream superstar, his individual stats are beginning to garner much deserved recognition in hockey circles.
Ranked second in the nation with a 1.71 goals-against average, Brittain sits behind only Michigan freshman Zach Nagelvoort who has had the luxury of playing 403 less minutes than Brittain up until this point in the season. Along with his impressive GAA, Brittain also sits fourth in the nation in save percentage (.944) and is tied for the NCAA lead in shutouts with three.
For his efforts, Brittain has been recognized as the goaltender of the week in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference on three separate occasions – the most of any NCHC netminder this season.
Although an injury to his left ACL and meniscus prior to his sophomore season led to a legitimate setback in Brittain’s quest to the NHL, his recent success should come as no surprise to those who followed him during his first year with the Pioneers. Posting a 19-9-5 record with a 2.28 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 2010-11, Brittain would go on to be named to the All-WCHA, College Hockey News, Inside College Hockey and USCHO.com All Rookie Teams.
Already gifted with a 6-foot-one, 215 lbs frame, Brittain will need to spend the coming months working on his vision and athleticism as his body already has the looks of an NHL-caliber goaltender. Having already had to battle through the adversity of overcoming both a knee injury and being relegated to backup duty during his recovery process, Brittain has already shown signs of the mental toughness that it takes to succeed at a position known for being unkind to youngsters at the professional level.
His collegiate career nearly at a close, Brittain could make the jump to the pro level as early as the end of this season. Upon turning pro, Brittain will join a talented group of young Panthers’ goaltenders that includes Jacob Markstrom and former OHL MVP Michael Houser. While Markstrom will certainly be given the most chances to seize a job with the Panthers, both Houser and Brittian will most certainly be given the chance to earn a roster spot in the coming seasons.
Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!