Pictou County hosts rival Bearcats tonight
NEW GLASGOW – There is always more time to put into his game and ways to improve, but as the Weeks Crushers prepare for their final game before the Christmas break, Brandon Thibeau is happy with where his game is at.
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Weeks Crushers goaltender Brandon Thibeau covers the puck during their home game against the Summerside Capitals on Oct. 24. In his first full season with the Crushers Thibeau is happy with how he’s performing in the No. 1 role, but said he continues to find ways to improve his game on a day-to-day basis.
As the No. 1 goalie for Pictou County he has started all but five regular season games for the Crushers. He has a 15-3-6 record in those 24 games, posting a 2.68 goals against average and 0.920 save percentage, with three shutouts.
Coming into the season head coach Jason Malone said some of Thibeau’s best hockey with the Crushers was played in the playoffs and hoped he would bring that play to the table this year. Comparing his numbers this season to his 0.925 save percentage and 2.55 goals against in last year’s postseason, he isn’t far off.
“Personally, yeah, for sure I’m happy with how things are going and where I’m at,” said Thibeau. “We’re content with where we’re at and as long as we’re first we’re happy with how things are going, although that doesn’t mean we can stop working hard every day.”
Thibeau’s numbers are improved from last year’s 0.900 save percentage and 3.54 goals against, but technically he said he hasn’t significantly changed anything. His main focus coming into this season was being more consistent.
“I really just wanted to be more consistent game in and game out and keep games to one goal to give the guys a chance to win,” he said. “It’s definitely going a little better than last year, but it’s also easier when you have such a good team in front of you.”
Bringing the consistent effort isn’t something that happens when the puck drops, according to Thibeau, it’s the off-ice preparation on game days and throughout the week. His work on his technical game is part of that preparation, but for the most part it’s on having his mind and body prepared similarly for the game.
“Consistency doesn’t happen when the puck drops, it’s what you do on game day, the day before,” he said. “It’s where your mind is going into a game and if you can have your mind and body in the same spot going into every game you should be able to bring a consistent effort.
“Technically I’m always trying to improve technique and things like that. My goalie coach Dave Kennedy from Moncton has been big in making sure my technique is always improving so I can focus on other areas, like consistency.”
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Fatigue isn’t something Thibeau is worried about, as Devan Tremblay has only played five games this season and Thibeau has played a few weeks of three games in three days. He said they have a great relationship, similar to that of last season with Dylan Frank.
“I don’t have a problem with – I’d love to play every game if I could – so I don’t have issue with that (fatigue),” he said. “When you have a three in three, it’s just doing right things during and before that weekend off the ice to prepare yourself for it. The way I see it is if the players can play three in a row, I should be able to play three in a row.
“As far as the No 1. thing, Dylan Frank was an amazing goalie last year and Devan is no different this year. I have to be aware of how I’m playing because he could definitely step up, but I use that as a way to constantly get better and try not to let it change anything.”
Tonight Thibeau is expected to be between the pipes at the Crushers host the Truro Bearcats for their final game of 2013. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
Pictou County is currently in first place in the MHL, six points ahead of the Bearcats with a game in hand. Thibeau said he believes the reason the team has been successful in holding onto first place for so long is their ability to focus on one game at a time and not looking too far ahead in their schedule.
“We have such a good group of hockey players in the dressing room and everyone wants to win and are on the same page,” he said. “We focus on one game at a time and winning every single game. We understand we have a long way to go and haven’t really done anything yet.
“Even after a big win we know we’re no good unless we can win again.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris