It’s a common belief in hockey that, for the most part, a goaltender is the most important player on a team.
Ethan Anders has lent plenty of credence to that notion to this point in the 2019-20 WHL season.
The Red Deer Rebels stopper posted a 3-0 record along with a 1.66 goals against average and a save percentage of .952 in a five-day span and on Monday was named WHL Eli Wilson Goaltending goaltender of the week for the period ending Sunday.
Anders turned aside 100 of the 105 shots he faced while posting 2-1, 5-1 and 4-3 wins over the Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers, with the last two games on the road.
The third-year Rebels netminder was selected as the first star of the game in Swift Current and Medicine Hat after making 27 saves against the Broncos Friday and 39 stops in the overtime conquest of the Tigers 24 hours later.
Still, he attributed much of his success to his teammates.
“It was a good weekend for us,” he said Tuesday. “I thought we played two pretty good games against two pretty good teams. And they were divisional games too, so that was big.
“I thought we played hard both games. We played smart hockey. I think that was the main reason we got the two wins.”
Clearly, Anders played a major role in the positive outcomes. His performance in Medicine Hat was particularly outstanding.
The 19-year-old native of Pilot Butte, Sask., attributed a large part of his early season success to the practice habits he’s embraced.
“Preparation is a big part of it for me this year. Each day in practice I work on a couple of things that I feel need work,” he said. “I’m just competing hard in practice and it’s carried over into games.
“I feel like it’s a format that’s working. I just have to stick with it and it will keep flowing.”
Anders, who sports a 4-2 record for the 4-3-0-0 Rebels — along with a 2.34 GAA and .933 save percentage — registered for training camp in August well aware of how much responsibility would fall on his shoulders this season.
With a rookie-laden roster and a boatload of players 17 years of age and younger, the Rebels will require top-notch goaltending to stay competitive in 2019-20.
“I like that,” he insisted. “I was hoping that I would have as big of a role as I had last year.
“I just try and go out there every night and give the guys a chance. If I do that I think we’ll have a pretty successful year.”
Anders’ positive outlook is based on his belief that the Rebels possess massive potential despite the team’s abundance of youth.
“We have a young team but you can see over the last few games that we do have a lot of skill and the younger guys have a lot of that,” he stated.
“I think we’re really figuring out our game right now as a team. The young guys are getting more comfortable with playing at a new level. I think we’re looking pretty good right now.”
Personally, it’s a big season for Anders regarding his hockey future. He was passed over in June’s NHL entry draft but is still plenty young enough to attract more than passing interest from NHL teams.
That being noted, he’s not putting any added pressure on himself in an effort to impress the pro scouts.
“I just want to go out and play my game,” he said. “I try not to worry about what those guys (scouts) are thinking. I’ll just play my game and if I do that I think things will work out in the end.”
The Rebels are idle until Friday when they host the Portland Winter Hawks.
° Rebels defenceman Christoffer Sedoff is among 44 WHL players on Central Scouting’s ‘players to watch’ list released Monday.
Sedoff is ranked as a ‘B’ prospect, a potential second- to third-round pick in next year’s NHL entry draft.