Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors goaltender J.P. Anderson was determined to start the 2011-12 season on a positive note.
Anderson guided the team to first place in the Ontario Hockey League last season, but the Majors dropped the two most important games of the year: losing Game 7 in overtime of the OHL championship to the Owen Sound Attack in May, and then falling to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup final two weeks later.
Now in his fourth season with the club, the 19-year-old Toronto native has the Majors out to a hot start, with the team sitting first in the Eastern Conference with an 8-1-1 record.
“When we lost, it was something that stung me for a while,” Anderson told the Toronto Star. “It was something that was hard to get over.
“Any time you come so close and lose, you’re always pretty hungry to get back there.”
Anderson currently has seven wins this season. Along the way, he passed former teammate Chris Carrozzi as the winningest goalie in Majors history when he picked up his 77th regular-season victory last month. He’s since added three more to his overall total.
Majors head coach James Boyd said it was a great way to start the year with Anderson playing so well.
“He’s a real leader on our team and when he’s playing great, he just fills everyone with confidence,” Boyd said on the team’s website. “We played really well defensively in front of him but his poise makes us confident out there.”
Anderson has had ups and downs over his junior career. He was named to the OHL’s all-rookie team in 2009 and shared the league’s top team goaltending award with Carrozzi in 2010. Despite the acclaim, Anderson was passed over in the 2010 NHL draft.
He didn’t remain unsigned for long. After an impressive performance at the Young Stars tournament that September, the San Jose Sharks signed Anderson to an entry-level contract.
Anderson was invited to Canada’s world junior camp, but even with then Majors coach Dave Cameron at the helm, he was cut from the team.
He rebounded and led the OHL with 38 wins and six shutouts and was also called up to the Sharks on an emergency basis, suiting up for one game.
“If you know this kid and you know his focus, and you know his attitude and his work ethic, you’re not at all surprised,” Cameron told the National Post.
Anderson and his team will face a major challenge on Wednesday when they host the London Knights, who are 8-2-0 and lead the Midwest Division.