Dylan Garand of Langford could be excused for gulping after looking at the names of the past winners on the trophy awarded to the Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year. The Islander added his name to a list that includes Carey Price, Carter Hart and newly-minted Stanley Cup-champion Darcy Kuemper.
“It’s a cool honour, for sure, especially when you look at the past winners who have gone on to play in the NHL,” said Garand, from the Memorial Cup festivities taking place in St. John, N.B.
“I want to follow in their footsteps and have a good career myself.”
Garand beat out Brett Brochu of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and Samuel Richard of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Garand, 20, was drafted by the New York Rangers and signed to an NHL entry-level contract. He realizes goaltenders have a longer development curve in pro hockey. And that Vezina Trophy-winner Igor Shesterkin is on the Rangers.
“I know it could be two or three years in the AHL, after which I would hope to make the full-time jump to the NHL,” said the graduate of the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association.
But first up for the 2021-22 CHL goaltender of the year, selected for his 2.16 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, will be the delayed 2022 world junior championship tournament in August in Edmonton. Garand will likely be the starting goaltender for Canada in the tournament, which was postponed mid-stride in January due to a COVID outbreak. After being on the silver-medallist 2021 Canadian team, which lost to the U.S. in the final in front of no fans, there is a sense of unfinished business on several levels. Garand is grateful to be getting the opportunity, even though the world juniors in summer will be a strange experience for what has become a Christmas time staple in Canadian sport.
“It’s great that the world tournament is still going to be played after being postponed. We will be absolutely pushing for the gold medal,” said Garand.
Garand provided lots of nightmares for his hometown Victoria Royals over four WHL seasons. So did Blazers teammate, forward Logan Stankoven, who was named CHL player of the year.