Who Should Backup Jack Campbell?


Hockey Canada has already named its roster of players who will attend the team’s tryout camp to try to make the U-20 championship squad, more commonly known as the World Junior Championships. I have already covered the six players with college ties who will be trying out, and early next week I’ll post my projected roster for who will make the preliminary United States roster. But for now I want to look at the goalies. After leading the US to the gold last year, and golds in the last two U-18 World Championships, Jack Campbell is a lock to start. But there are many candidates to back him up.

Let’s take a look:

Zane Gothberg, Fargo (USHL)

Gothberg was named Minnesota’s top HS goalie at Thief River Falls, and has played for the United States in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Still, asking a kid to go from the USHL to the World Juniors is a tall order, especially because Gothberg only has a .890 save percentage this year. He was a hot choice to be the backup when the USHL season started, but I don’t see him getting invited to camp at this point.

Adam Murray, Denver (WCHA)

Another player who had some buzz coming into the year, Murray is now backing up Sam Brittain (who should have gotten an invite to Canada’s camp, but Canada would die of shame if an NCAA kid led them to a gold medal), and is a quick dismissal from this group.

Brandon Maxwell, Kitchener (OHL)

Maxwell played 3 years for the NTDP, where he put up pretty meh numbers. He was committed to Boston College before backing out to go the OHL route (though it’s likely he just didn’t want to play for Erie, who picked him in the priority selection). Maxwell would be the oldest goalie on the roster as a 1991 birthdate, and while USA Hockey usually prefers to groom younger guys in the backup role, Campbell will be eligible next year as well so that isn’t as big of a concern. His 3.38 GAA is unseemly, but his .906 save percentage is actually not too bad (10th in the OHL among goalies with 900 minutes played). He might get an invite to camp, but I don’t see him making the team.

Michael Houser, London (OHL)

Houser is 9th in the OHL in GAA and 5th in save percentage. He never played for the NTDP and doesn’t have international experience, but he has had a great year so far and at this point I would probably invite him to the camp.

Andy Iles, Cornell (ECAC)

Iles had a really good year with the NTDP last year, with a .918 save percentage and a 2.29 GAA. He played with the U-17’s in the Ivan Hlinka and had a .951 save percentage in two games. It seems like the brass at USA Hockey really like him, so I definitely think he’ll get one of the two non-Campbell invites to camp. He only has a .908 save percentage at Cornell so far this year, 10th in the league, but Cornell is  terrible this year and Iles shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame.

Final decision: If I were heading up USA Hockey I would probably take Iles and Houser and go from there, probably deciding on Iles in the end because of his international experience. But I think USA Hockey will probably end up inviting Iles and then Maxwell.