Whether it’s J.P. Anderson or Spencer Martin in net, the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors have relied on strong goaltending to start the year strong out of the gate.
The duo have been a key factor as the Majors opened the season with seven straight wins and are now 10-5-0-2, first in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division.
Although the team is on a two-game losing streak, head coach and general manager James Boyd credits the pair with keeping the Majors alive in both games.
“We’ve had outstanding efforts from our goalies and I think the scores have been flattering in some instances,” Boyd said. “Goaltending is part of your team so we’ll continue to play well together.”
Anderson made 42 saves in the Majors’ 2-1 loss against the Brampton Battalion on Thursday, while Martin stopped 35 shots during Friday’s 5-2 defeat to the Peterborough Petes.
Despite his solid effort, Martin was still disappointed with the final score.
“I didn’t get the save percentage I wanted and let in a couple goals at the end there,” Martin said. “Overall, I want to win.”
Anderson added it’s been up and down the past few games but the team is trying to end their skid.
“Lately it’s been a bit of a struggle but we’re working every day to get everything on the right track,” Anderson said. “Fortunately, we got off to a really good start so it’s balancing everything out but we’ve got to get back to playing the way we know how to play.”
The 19-year-old Toronto native is in his fourth season with the Majors and is now the franchise’s all-time wins leader with 81 victories. Anderson said breaking the record earlier this year was quite the accomplishment but he was also quick to credit his teammates.
“I’ve been really fortunate since I’ve got here to play on some good teams and obviously that helps when you’ve got a good team in front of you, it’s a little easier to put up wins,” Anderson said. “I’ve been really fortunate to be part of this organization and given a chance to play on good teams.”
Anderson is also adjusting to his new mentor role as he prepares to groom Martin into the Majors’ next starting goaltender.
“I’ve always played with an older guy for my first three years so it’s a little different but I’m enjoying it,” Anderson said. “Spencer is a good goalie and he’s a talented kid. He’s going to do well and continue to grow.”
Martin,16, was selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Majors in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection and had nothing but praise for Anderson.
“I can’t say enough, any questions I have, I go right to him,” Martin said. “He’s always got the right answer and obviously has the experience and he’s a really skilled goalie.”
Boyd said Anderson has been great taking over the veteran role and has provided Martin and the other young players on the Majors with a lot of support.
“I think the other guys have a lot of confidence in J.P. and he’s done a great job showing our young guys what it takes to play,” Boyd said. “Those guys are close competitors and anytime in practice when we have one guy pushing the other, it’s a healthy relationship.”
Anderson can also look forward to a future in the San Jose Sharks organization. Last year, he signed an entry-level contract with the club and was an emergency call-up in January. Although he didn’t play, Anderson said it was pretty neat to see how things work on a day-to-day basis in the NHL.
“Taking in a few days of the NHL life was quite the experience for myself,” Anderson said. “I try to take some good things out of that and give me the idea of that level.”
He will also suit up again for Team OHL in the Subway Super Series against Team Russia in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. on Nov. 14 but he’s also looking forward to playing alongside Majors teammates Stuart Percy and Riley Brace.
“It’s a good experience and a good showcase in front of the Hockey Canada staff,” Anderson said. “I’m excited about that and excited to be going with my teammates Percy and Brace.”
As for the Majors, they have three games in three straight days starting next Friday when they host the Barrie Colts. The team then faces the Owen Sound Attack on the road before returning home to play the Sarnia Sting.
Boyd said it’s always a challenge to play in three straight days and will tweak things up a bit.
“You manage your personnel a little bit differently, maybe spread the play out,” Boyd said. “We’ve got to be smart and stay out of the penalty box and manage the puck better.”
Martin is confident the Majors are up for the challenge.
“I think we’re going to be alright,” Martin said, “and hopefully use the work we do in practice and bring that to the games.”