Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Ethan Slobodzian, Nipawin Hawks

For the last two years the Nipawin Hawks have allowed the fewest goals against in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Their goaltenders – Declan Hobbs and Jake Anthony in 2017-18 and Hobbs and Patrick Pugliese last year – sported the best goals-against averages and as a result the Hawks were regular-season pennant winners in each of those seasons.
With no one returning to carry the load this year the Hawks made a trade with the Dauphin Kings shortly after training camp broke and it looks like the Hawks might just be on their way to being the stingiest team once again as Ethan Slobodzian has been perfect since his arrival in Nipawin.
The 20-year-old Mount Hope, Ont., product stopped all 51 shots he faced on opening weekend to help Nipawin sweep a home-and-home series against the Melfort Mustangs. Slobodzian blocked all 25 shots he faced in his debut last Friday and one night later he turned aside all 26 shots as Nipawin won by identical 3-0 margins.
Slobodzian has put some miles on during his hockey career. As a 15-year-old he played with the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Midget AAA level and the following year he saw action with the Niagara North Stars, another Midget AAA squad.
Slobodzian then spent a season split between St. Catherines and Thorold in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League before beginning a tour out west that saw him spend a season with the Grand Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and last season with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
His numbers with the Kings were respectable – 3.12 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 19 appearances – but they paled to what he has set in motion with his hot start with the Hawks.
Nipawin has consistently been a league leader in team defence and if Slobodzian continues to turn in strong performances there is no reason as to why that trend won’t continue this year.