Drew Sim picked up the biggest shutout of his hockey career thus far on Friday.
The Tees, Alta. native, and Vancouver Giants prospect, backstopped Team Alberta to a 37-save, 12-0 victory over Team Saskatchewan Friday afternoon to win men’s hockey bronze at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
“It’s a really surreal feeling,” Sim said. “The boys battled hard and helped me out a lot there – I’m really happy the boys were able to pull out a W, even though it’s 12-0. It was really fun.”
Sim began round-robin play in between the pipes for Team Alberta last Saturday, where he stopped 18 shots in a 4-3 loss to the very Team Saskatchewan his team would defeat for bronze. In Game 2, goaltender Lochlan Gordon made the start in a 6-5 win over Manitoba, and in Game 3, Sim finally got his first win of the tournament, stopped 27 shots in a 5-4, come-from-behind victory that clinched Alberta first place in Pool B heading into the quarterfinals.
Gordon was given the start for the quarterfinals against New Brunswick last Wednesday night, but after allowing three goals on eight shots in the first, he was pulled in favour of Sim, who stopped all 11 shots he faced as Team Alberta rallied for an 8-3 win.
Sim would then get the start in the semifinals against Team Ontario. Ultimately, however, his 18 saves on 26 shots wouldn’t be good enough to out-duel Ontario’s Benjamin Gaudreau and his 40 saves on 44 shots, and Alberta fell 8-4, losing their shot at gold on home ice.
Fortunately, they’d still have a shot at a medal, and Sim would get the nod for the bronze medal game and a chance to help his team redeem themselves. While there was undoubtedly pressure, he said he was comfortable in between the pipes.
“I was really calm,” he said. “I knew I could do it, even if (the puck) goes in, I knew it was going to bounce back. I just knew I had it.”
Alberta Head Coach Bobby Fox said the first period was his team’s best defensively of the tournament, but credited part of that to an early, but key, save by Sim.
“The first shift he had to make a pretty big save on a two-on-one against some dangerous forwards. That kind of set the tone, settled the guys in,” Fox said. “He had some help, a lot of sacrifices – guys were putting their body on the line, even in the last minute. They were doing it for him and it was good to see.”
Matt Savoie would open the scoring for Alberta, and add two more goals and two assists during the game. Craig Armstrong and Dylan Guenther would each add two goals. Tyson Laventure, Zack Stringer, Olen Zellweger, Owen MacNeil and Marc Lajoie would add a goal apiece in what was very much a bounce-back game for Team Alberta.
“It’s a sombering moment when you don’t get to go for gold. I think that was our message today – be grateful for this opportunity. We’re part of something big, we’re part of Team Alberta and we want to add to that medal count and just cherish the moment,” said Fox.
“I’m super proud of this group. They’re going to look back and it’s going to be a big moment for them. It’s not the gold medal, but not many teams can say they’ve medalled at the Canada Winter Games. I know they’re pretty jacked in that room, and as a staff we’re extremely proud.”
In the gold medal game, Team Quebec edged Team Ontario 4-3 in overtime.
On Sunday, Team Alberta’s female hockey team will start their part of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. at the Enmax Centrium.
Pretty proud of this group of young men. It’s not easy to play at home. Not the medal they wanted, but they regrouped nicely to win bronze tonight. To top it off a 37 shut out for @Drew31Simpic.twitter.com/D5mLIpDHf1