This has not been a dream season for the Green Mountain Glades. The Burlington, Vt.-based team from the Eastern Junior League has kicked players off the team for transgressions, fired its coach and re-assigned its GM. But at least they’re solid in the crease.
That safety comes courtesy of netminder Dalton Izyk (pronounced ‘Isaac’), who has played beyond expectations for a player his age. The 16-year-old ranks seventh in the EJHL with a 3.01 goals-against average; most of the goalies above him are two or three years older. More importantly, Izyk is getting wins for the Glades – he owns six of their seven victories with two by shutout, including one in his EJHL debut.
“We had a goalie who was going to be very good at some point, I just didn’t know at what point that would be,” said now ex-coach Chris Line. “He totally exceeded my expectations. He’s very mature for a 16-year-old.”
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Izyk certainly has size in net and he uses that to his advantage.
“Positionally, he’s always in the right spot,” Line said. “A lot of pucks hit him. He’s a big kid and his agility is able to put him in a position where he doesn’t have to over-commit.”
The Glades have struggled to score this season, making Izyk’s role that much more important. The fact he’s a rookie facing competition several years older has made the learning curve a steep one, but it’s a challenge the Oswego, N.Y. native is willing to take on.
“It’s a very competitive league,” Izyk said. “Everyone can play, there’s no player you can take easy. I’m thinking about the second shot as well as the first shot because these guys are smart – they’re shooting for rebounds.”
Coming from the same under-16 Syracuse Nationals team as Michigan recruit ‘Boo’ Nieves, Izyk is also steadfast about playing NCAA hockey and though he took high school classes while in middle school, he would still have another year after this season before college was a possibility. The United States League seems like a good stepping stone, but Izyk likes Vermont.
“I’m getting a lot of playing time,” he said, “so I don’t want to go anywhere.”
Listing his influences as Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury (for his stance) and Boston’s Tim Thomas (for his competitiveness), Izyk still has work to do on his game, but he knows where to focus.
“Sometimes I over-think things,” he said. “I try to do things too perfectly.”
The mental part of the goaltending position is one that takes a long time to develop and while Line believes Izyk could challenge shooters more, the coach also tried to keep things simple for the Green Mountain rookie during his tenure. The early result was a netminder the Glades really benefited from, making a bad situation a little less so.
“He’s the type of goalie who will never lose you a game and can steal you a game,” Line said.
The EJHL has seen its share of elite prospects come through its gates in the past few years, with Jeremy Morin, Charlie Coyle and Brian Dumoulin all putting in time on the circuit. Izyk is draft eligible in 2012 and even though the netminding position is notoriously difficult to predict future success upon, the youngster from Green Mountain has already triumphed over a good deal of on-ice adversity.
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