Jordan Hollett has learned that there’s no such thing as a backup plan.
Although the Regina Pats have tried to put their No. 2 goaltender in the best possible position during his rookie season, there have been times when they’ve had no choice but to throw him in the fire.
That’s what happened last week when Hollett was forced to start three straight games all with playoff implications after veteran Tyler Brown came down with the flu.
Hollett responded by winning all three contests, helping Regina climb within a single point of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the battle for third place in the East Division.
It was a tough spot for the youngster, who shrugged it off as being part of his role.
“There’s never an ideal position (as a backup),” noted Hollett. “I just wanted to come in and look at it as a big challenge and go out there and do my best. Thankfully the guys played unbelievable in front of me and we were able to get the job done.”
Hollett hadn’t started a game in almost a month when he got the call last Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos. Despite showing some rust, he made 36 saves in a 5 2 win.
Two nights later against Moose Jaw, Hollett allowed four goals on 26 shots through 60 minutes, including a soft one to tie the game with 25.6 seconds left. However, he came up big in overtime and the shootout, backstopping his team to a 5 4 win.
Hollett capped off the week just 24 hours later by turning aside 26 of 27 shots in Regina’s 5 1 decision over Moose Jaw, saving his best for last.
“I felt a lot more relaxed, a lot more confident,” explained Hollett, who improved to 10 6 1 with a 3.67 GAA and an .887 save percentage. “I’ve been working really hard even though I haven’t been playing (much). I’ve been putting in extra work and really focusing on the little details. Finally it’s starting to show.”
Despite some ups and downs, Hollett’s rookie season has featured a number of highlights. Among them was a 30 save effort on Nov. 27 in Regina’s 4 3 overtime win versus the Calgary Hitmen. A week later, he stopped 40 shots in a 2 1 decision over the Brandon Wheat Kings, losing the shutout with just 1:29 left in regulation.
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Hollett fell just short of another goose egg on Saturday, holding Moose Jaw off the board for 55 plus minutes.
“He was outstanding,” said head coach/GM John Paddock, noting that Hollett improved in each of his three starts. “The Swift Current game, the score was 5 2 and he was (named) the first star but that really wasn’t the case. He was fighting it. He was quite a bit better (Friday), the last goal notwithstanding. He did a good job in the shootout to blank them. Then (Saturday) maybe other than the game in Calgary or the game in Brandon it was probably his best game of the year.”
It was also his biggest win, completing a home and home sweep of the Warriors with only a week left in the regular season.
“Everybody knew those were two really big games,” said Hollett. “It was a great experience to be put in this position and play against some great players and really challenge myself at this big point in the season. It shows me what I have to do to be able to bring my game to the next level.”
In particular, Hollett relished the challenge of facing Warriors captain Brayden Point, a top NHL prospect who wore the ‘C’ for Canada at this year’s world juniors.
“That was cool for me,” said Hollett. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played against.”
Hollett won the matchup Friday night when he robbed Point on Moose Jaw best chance in overtime and stopped him again in the shootout.
Point earned some revenge in Saturday’s rematch, breaking up Hollett’s shutout bid with 4:35 left in regulation.
However, the 16 year old netminder still got the last laugh.
wasn really thinking about the shutout (until the end), said Hollett. most important thing is we got the win. Pats will be looking for their fourth straight win on Wednesday against the visiting Saskatoon Blades. Brown could get the start after returning to practice for the past two days.
If he doesn’t, it’s clear that Hollett has earned the team trust.
“I can’t say enough about him,” said captain Adam Brooks. “It shows the work ethic he has, staying focused in practice when he doesn’t play for a while. Hopefully Brownie gets healed up but we know no matter what we have two great goaltenders that we can rely on.”