Cameron Lamour asserting himself as ‘Goaltender of the future’
By: Cory Butzin, Digital Content Provider
SAGINAW, MI — As one of the hottest teams in the Ontario Hockey League, the present time has been pretty fun for the Saginaw Spirit.
But Cameron Lamour is letting people know the future is bright, too.
Backup goalies typically don’t get a lot of attention, but as the Spirit prepare to see one of the organization’s all-time best goalies — Evan Cormier — graduate to professional hockey with the New Jersey Devils organization after the season, more eyes have turned towards who is likely to serve as his eventual replacement.
And Lamour is responding with the best hockey of his young career.
“He’s so calm,” Spirit coach Troy Smith said. “Almost too calm sometimes for his own good, but you watch the best goalies in the world, they make it look easy because they read plays well and never get too hyper when the puck is around the net.”
A third round pick by Saginaw in the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Lamour saw spot duty with the Spirit last year while Cormier was in NHL camp. He entered this year — his first full one in major junior — in a battle for the backup spot and had to overcome a rough start before earning his position as Saginaw’s goalie of the future.
“I feel a little more comfortable (now),” Lamour said. “After the Ottawa game, I told myself, I’ve got to switch things around and try something new.”
It has been working out so far.
Struggles struck the entire team in an early-season road loss to Ottawa that saw Saginaw drop an 11-3 contest to the ‘67s, but Lamour faced a gut-check moment after surrendering nine goals on 28 shots.
And the 17-year old has responded the way a franchise goalie does.
In his last six games since Ottawa, Lamour kept the opposition to three goals or fewer, had a goals-against average under 3.50 each game and under 3.00 three times.
But most importantly — he hasn’t lost.
“It’s been great,” Smith said. “He’s in a tough spot. It’s not easy being the backup goalie, but he works hard every day, and I think (goalie coach) AJ (Walczak) has done a great job working with him in practice. We have all the confidence in the world in him when he’s in net.”
Lamour earned his first win of the season right after the Ottawa game recording 30 saves against Owen Sound, and he followed that up against Kingston, which is second in the East, leading the Spirit to another win on the back of his 35-save performance.
He’s also backstopped Saginaw to a pair of wins of division rival Sarnia, which leads the league in goals scored, allowing just five tallies in two games.
“When I first started working with (Walczak), I wasn’t the best skater in the crease,” Lamour said. “I’m definitely better than I was and it’s helped my game.”
Lamour’s mental toughness and commitment to the game has also helped, in addition to having a good example to emulate.
“With Cormier being older and having years of experience, I’ve just been watching him and what he does in practice, how he’s a leader in the dressing room, it’s great,” Lamour said.
“(It’s helped) my approach when I come to the rink. I try to get more prepared, get in my zone and get ready to play.”