In extended training camp action, rookie netminder Ethan Pearson has shown the ability to keep BCHL shooters at bay. (Darren Francis photo)

In extended training camp action, rookie netminder Ethan Pearson has shown the ability to keep BCHL shooters at bay. (Darren Francis photo)

Chilliwack Chiefs goalie Ethan Pearson adapting to BCHL shooters

The 18-year-old rookie is using the 2020-21 junior A season to get ready for the jump to Princeton

Ethan Pearson has yet to play his first for-real BCHL game, but he’s already taken care of a big piece of business.

The rookie goaltender has netted an NCAA scholarship with Princeton University.

The 18 year old will likely spend one season with the Chilliwack Chiefs before joining the Tigers.

“I’m very excited,” the New Brunswick product said. “The facilities are beautiful and all have a part of history towards each building. The hockey team is on the verge of great things and the academics speak for themselves. I really want to be a part of that history, and can’t wait to get started.”

But first, the young stopper gets to hone his craft staring down BCHL shooters.

READ MORE: Chilliwack Chiefs welcome back Mathieu Caron for 2020-21 BCHL season

READ MORE: Chilliwack hockey boss believes Chiefs are good enough to win BCHL title

Pearson comes to Chilliwack from Rhode Island, where he spent most of last season with Mount Saint Charles Academy, a private prep school located in the town of Woonsocket.

In 35 games he posted a microscopic 1.55 goals-against average and 92.6 save percentage.

The teenager said he faced high calibre shooting in his U18 AAA league, with the first line at Mount Saint Charles rivaling the top BCHL gunners. But the depth of BCHL lineups means every single guy from the top of a roster to the bottom can test him.

While he’s not intimidated by what BCHLers can throw at him, the degree of difficulty has gone up with the jump to junior A.

“From one to four (lines), it’s all guys who would have been on the first or second line at Mount Saint Charles,” he explained.

With the Chiefs, Pearson will share the netminding duties with veteran Mathieu Caron, a 20 year old in his fourth full BCHL season. It’s an interesting dynamic, with the highly-touted rookie pushing the veteran for playing time, but Pearson said ‘healthy competition’ benefits both goaltenders.

“Mathieu drives me to the rink almost every morning and we have a good bond,” Pearson said. “I’ve definitely taken some tips from him and I feel we’re both going be better because we pushed each other.

“In college we’re going to have to go through a phase where we beat out an older guy, and we’re both guys who like to put in extra work after practice or at the gym. The more he does it the more I want to do it, and I’m sure the more I do it the more he wants to do it.”

Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney has said it’ll be an open competition all season long between the two, which might mean a near-even split of starts.

But if the veteran gets the lions share of the workload early, Pearson is prepared to be patient and earn his playing time.

“It’s just a mind-set thing for any goalie and something you learn along the way, to stay ready as best you can,” he said. “Don’t change up much. Don’t overthink things. If you have a bad game or let in a bad goal, put it in the past and focus ahead. It’s easier said than done, but the mental game is huge for a goalie.”

So far so good for the six-foot-two and 185 pound stopper, who’s fashioned a 2.39 GAA and 89.3 SP in three ‘extended training camp’ games. His next chance might come Friday night when Chilliwack hits the road for a road game in Coquitlam.

It’ll be the first look at the defending BCHL champs, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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