FRASER, Mich. – The Metro Jets have four goaltenders on the roster this season and have solid balance with two returning veterans and a pair of rookies.
And yet, each player contributes in his own way, both on and off the ice.
The two veterans – Andrew Kormos and Brian Tallieu – were teammates a year ago in Fraser, while Jacob McClelland and Michael Paul were playing high school and youth hockey last season.
Each goalie has improved this season and has Jets goalie coach Randy Wilson to thank for that.
“Randy has hammered on me all year to work on my shot patience and my readiness,” McClelland said. “Coming into the season, these were definitely areas of weakness for me. It was difficult at first because the concepts were relatively new to me, particularly shot patience, but I feel like I have progressed in those areas throughout the year.
“In all my years of playing hockey, I have never had a full-time goalie coach. I am very appreciative of what Randy has taught me this year. He knows the game extremely well and has a boatload of experience. Having Randy as a coach and mentor has made me a better goaltender.”
As a 1997 birth year, Kormos is entering the home stretch of his junior hockey career. He began the season in the NAHL, but returned to the Jets in late September and should be making a decision on his NCAA future in the coming weeks.
Kormos and Tallieu have rotated much of this 2017-18 season in the Metro crease.
“I feel like my game has improved in many areas, but in my second year now, I feel like my ability to read plays as they are happening has improved greatly, and playing another year of juniors has helped me greatly with that,” Kormos said. “Coming into the home stretch, my focus is just being ready when my number is called. At the end of the day, every game is just another game, and I just try to stick to what has gotten me this far already. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun, and if I’m prepared for a game, then I am going to have fun.”
Tallieu is in agreement with his goalie partner.
“Working with ‘Kormy’ is truly amazing and he is a wonderful goalie partner and stallmate of course,” Tallieu said. “He and I built a great friendship last year and I’ve learned so much from watching him play in games and in practice. He has taught me a lot since last season and is very competitive. Heading down the home stretch of the season, I’m focusing on the details and being more consistent in my game, like what I can do better to help improve myself and learn from mistakes.
“Doing the little things in practice and carrying them into the game will help me a lot going into playoffs and not looking past anything because everything is important coming into the final stretch.”
Wilson has been enamored with what he’s seen this season out of his prodigies.
“I think our goaltending has been good this year, maybe not as dominant as last year, but nonetheless pretty steady and solid with only a handful of bad goals against and/or weak games,” said Wilson. “I really like the tandem of Kormos and Tallieu, and MacClelland has chipped in as well. I like that Kormos and Tallieu have really tried to clean up their games by implementing the situational instruction details that I’ve given them.
“Kormos has obviously proven that he is an elite junior goaltender, quick and agile that battles and never gives up on a situation, even when he’s down and out. He’s extremely aggressive, strong mentally under pressure and wants to be the guy in the net in big-pressure situations.
“Tallieu has come into his own. His style is a more controlled game. He relies on his positional disciplines and patience. He has really evolved in areas of his compete level and urgency in disadvantaged situations. He has done a great job of what I call ‘playing soft.’ In other words, very controlled and quiet with a very good rebound control. I believe he’s gone from a guy that last year was often questionable in his game consistency, to a goalie that we know we’re going to get a solid effort out of for a complete 60 minutes. I can tell you that his attention to his positional disciplines and details has increased exponentially in one year.”
For Paul, who has yet to see game action this season, getting to work with Wilson has been more than worth his time with the Jets this season.
“It’s great to be able to work with some of the older guys like Kormos and Tallieu,” Paul said. “They have a lot more experience not only in this level but at the next level as well, and that gives me a lot to feed off of just by watching them play. Randy’s been making a huge impact on me since Day 1 of the season. He’s given me the answers no other coach could give me and he explains how important it is to pay attention to detail. Randy makes goaltending a lot more simple, especially the way he coaches it.”
“Randy has had a tremendous influence on my game,” added Kormos. “I’ve known Randy for eight years and not only is he a great coach, but he is an even better person. He always has my best interest in mind, and he would do anything for me, as would I for him. Having him on the ice every day is a great luxury.”
Tallieu noted that Wilson is a major reason why Jets goaltenders have had success in recent years.
“He sacrifices a lot to help coach the goalies and the team as well,” said Tallieu. “Randy believes in everyone and that’s one of the reasons why I love him as my goalie coach. He knows what I’m capable of and I know that I can hold him to that standard, if not higher. He’s taught me so many things about the world of goaltending.
“I can’t thank him enough for all of work that he puts into not only myself and Kormos, ‘Mac’ and Paul, but for the team as well.”