Kamloops Blazers goalie coach proud of Connor Ingram
'He's grown as a person. He's grown as a goalie. That's why he's there,' says coach
The goalie coach of the Kamloops Blazers is still proud of Connor Ingram's performance in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, even though the young netminder was pulled from the game after just eight minutes.
The Kamloops player started in net for Canada in the semi-finals against Sweden, but was pulled after he let in two goals on three shots. Carter Hart was substituted in for Ingram and Canada downed Sweden 5-2.
"You're sitting there and you're a little gut wrenched for him, but knowing Connor and knowing what he's about and knowing that one day doesn't define you...you don't live on one shutout," said goaltending coach Dan De Palma.
'Not many people get the opportunity to start a hockey game in the semi-final of that tournament," he said.
"You have to do a lot of good things for a long time to put yourself in that spot regardless of how it goes."
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De Palma has been coaching goalies with the Western Hockey League team for the last eight years.
He says he didn't know right away that Ingram was going to become the kind of player who could compete at an international level.
"You could always see the skill was there. He had some real natural ability, but there's a lot of other things that go with it that put a guy at the stage that he's at," he said.
'It stinks, but it'll make him stronger'
Ingram started with the Blazers at age 16 and since then, De Palma says, he's developed a lot to be able to play at the World Juniors.
"He's grown as a person. He's grown as a goalie. That's why he's there," said De Palma.
He says Ingram will come out of this experience in the international tournament a better player when he returns to the Blazers.
"It stinks, but it'll make him stronger."
Blazers playing well without Ingram
While Ingram has been playing with Team Canada, other players on the Blazers team have had to pick up the slack during the WHL games.
"We've relied on Connor quite a bit for a little while so it's been an important test for our group to be able to play without him and have success without him," said De Palma.
The Blazers have won three of their last five games and return to action this weekend against the Kelowna Rockets on Jan.6.
Canada will play the U.S. in the gold medal game on Jan. 5 at 5 p.m. PT.