by Lisa McRitchie on 11/25/11 at 02:30 AM ET
This could be the second year in a row that an Edmonton Oiler goaltender prospect may be in net for Team Canada at the World Juniors tournament. Last year, Roy played the opening game for Team Canada and two other important preliminary games but struggled with consistency. Mark Visentin was Team Canada’s second goaltender who would start 4 games, and was the goaltender the team relied on through the final game. This year, it is Medicine Hat Tiger’s netminder Tyler Bunz who is on the radar for Team Canada.
Bunz is the only goaltender on Team Canada’s short list who has been named the CHL’s goaltender of the week this season, and from what I gather based off of an interview Hockey Canada’s head scout Kevin Prendergast had with Guy Flaming on the Team 1260’s Pipeline Show, Bunz looks to be at the top of the list. Prendergast says “I think maybe Bunz has been the most consistent goaltender.”
Currently, Bunz has a 14-5-1-2 record with a GAA of 2.52 and SV% of 0.924. To put it mildly, Bunz has been good.
Bunz was to get the start on the second game of the Subway Super Series’ Team Russia vs. Team WHL meeting, but it was a bizarre incident that prevented this from happening. While sitting on the bench in Regina November 16th Bunz was struck in the head by a puck. Bunz was taken to the hospital for xrays, and thankfully there was no serious long term damage. Bunz would later tweet “Wont be in the lineup again, swelling and soreness still not gone.. hoping to be back sometime this week.” Bunz suffered a swollen temple, temporarily that kept him from competing in the Subway Super Series as well as the Medicine Hat Tiger’s lineup that weekend.
Less than a week later, Bunz has returned to his team’s lineup and will likely be in net for this Friday’s Medicine Hat vs. Medicine Hat Tigers game which will be broadcast on Sportsnet. The Team Canada camp invitations will be announced next week. There are four spots for goaltenders, and one will very likely be held by Bunz, regardless of the results of Friday’s game. Of course another great game, especially while televised, will only help Bunz’s case going into camp.
While many WHL games are televised on Shaw Cable, that isn’t very accessible to everyone and a Sportsnet broadcast may be an excellent opportunity for Oiler fans to see a few Oiler prospects; Bunz of the Tigers and Martin Gernat and Kristians Pelss of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Other players of note include Griffin Reinhart who is draft eligible this year, and may be on the Edmonton Oilers’ radar as well as all of the other NHL teams; Reinhart is projected to go in the first half of the first round.
While Bunz has been lighting it up in the WHL, Olivier Roy was just awarded the ECHL goaltender of the week for November 14th to 20th. Much focus has been placed on the forwards and defencemen on the Oilers’ prospect list, as it should be, but it’s great to see the goaltenders having successful seasons as well. Bunz will be a few years away from playing as an Oiler, but his strong development and impressive stats have made an impression with fans already.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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