Wednesday, 27 April 2016 16:00

Not bad AJHL playoffs for Foremost native: 12-1 record; GAA of 1.10; 4 shutouts

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Garrett Hughson has had an amazing run so far in the playoffs.. Garrett Hughson has had an amazing run so far in the playoffs..

On Jan. 6, 2016, the first two paragraphs of a Prairie Post story on Foremost-native Garret Hughson, who had just been released from the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfire and been picked up by the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits read like this:

“In sports, there is an old adage about how ‘it’s not how you start, but how you finish.’ For 6’3”, 196-lb goaltender Garret Hughson, a native of Foremost and the latest addition to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s South Division leading Brooks Bandits (29-6-2), that couldn’t be more true. After having a bad start to the year with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs — a team he had been with since the 2012-13 season (0-2-1, .833 save percentage) — he was released and picked up on the waiver wire by the Niagara Ice Dogs in late October.Then he was immediately traded to the Windsor Spitfires for a draft pick. For those keeping score, that’s 3,337 km from Spokane Wash. to Windsor, Ont. Now he’s back in Alberta in Brooks near his hometown (150 km from Foremost) and couldn’t be happier.’”
Fast forward to April 26 and on the phone, Hughson chuckles when asked if he’s enjoyed his move to Brooks.
Hughson stopped 31 of 32 in the game/series and AJHL championship-winning game April 22 in Spruce Grove as the Bandits beat the Saints 4-1 to win the series 4-1 clinching the Bandits third AJHL championship.
The Bandits went a mind-numbing 12-1 during the three series in the playoffs.
All Hughson did besides earn a 12-1 record, is tie the record for most shutouts in AJHL history with four and set the record for lowest goals against average in AJHL history with a ridiculously low 1.10 GAA.
Personal accomplishments aside, first and foremost, Hughson is pleased with his team’s fortunes and couldn’t be more proud of his teammates.
“We have a good system; everyone has bought in,” explains Hughson, adding it didn’t take him long in early January to realize he was with a special group.
“When I came here, that was the plan (to win a championship). There was a strong contingent of players here.
“Yeah, it feels really good to win after the whirlwind season I’ve had to do this with (the records) too.”
Besides the plus of playing close to home to close out his junior career —as he’s an overage —the other plus was Hughson enjoying coming to Brooks and being reunited full time with his goaltending coach Matt Wong, someone he’s worked with since bantam-age.
Wong runs a goaltending consultation business, but is also employed by the Bandits as an assistant. Hughson says when he arrived Wong cleaned up a few things from his game.
“There were a few things changed and that was good, but to know he was there gave me confidence,” explains Hughson.
He adds he was thankful his friends and family had the chance to see him play and enjoy the success the Bandits have had in the playoffs.
He isn’t concerned about the layoff going to Estevan for the Western Canadian finals and says the biggest worry is to maintain focus, practise hard and to watch what film he can on opponents he has never seen play live before.
There were a lot of fans that went to Spruce Grove and hopes there will be some travelling to southeast Saskatchewan.
“It’s always nice to go somewhere where you don’t think there won’t be anyone who will be cheering for you,” adds Hughson, although he’s not sure how many people will be there in Estevan.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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