Photo courtesy of Lucas Chudleigh/Prince Albert Raiders
The Prince Albert Raiders had to make a tough decision at the start of the 2016-17 WHL season. That decision had to do with who would be tending net for them. They had overage goalie Rylan Parenteau as the returning starter, but were also blessed with a 1999-born and high bantam draft pick in Ian Scott. The Raiders decided to go with the younger goalie and despite a rough year for his team, Scott has stood tall in net.
Despite being the ninth overall pick in the 2014 bantam draft, Scott really did not feel any added pressure with his status as a high first-round pick.
“I don’t think so. Especially in the WHL draft you can go anywhere depending on the team. I’ve had friends who got picked lower and are still in the same league. It’s just about pressuring myself to be the best.”
In the 2015-16 campaign, Scott got into 26 games, posting a 3.24 GAA and 0.892 save percentage while playing behind Parenteau. Scott credits Parenteau with helping him adjust to life in the WHL.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better mentor in my fist year in the Western League. He showed me the ropes and helped me with living away from home for the first time. It was all about the little things with him and he helped me with preparing like a pro. He’s one of the best at that and was the best I could have had for showing me all of that.”
Then with this year bringing more playing time to the tune of 48 games and counting, it has been about putting those lessons to use and learning some more along the way.
“This year with more playing time it’s more of a learning year getting used to the mental side of the game and bringing about more consistency. I think I did struggle a bit at the beginning of the season and then kind of got more natural with the consistency. Everything started falling more into place and I realized more about what it took.”
With his early season struggles, he received a valiant challenge for the net in Nick Sanders, who was brought over in the Parenteau trade. Sanders’s strong play really helped Scott reach the next level in his own game though.
“You always have to practice with a bit of a competitive edge no matter who your goalie partner is. You are going to push each other in practice and compete for starts. That’s just a healthy goalie relationship.”
This season has been an interesting one with the youthful Raiders failing to make the playoffs. Scott used the ups-and-downs of the season to perfect the more cerebral side to safeguarding a net in the WHL.
“I really improved my mental side of the game. Just being competitive and if they get one just say well they’re not getting another. You don’t give up on pucks and you give your team a chance to win every night.”
Late in January scouts took notice of his improved play and offered him a spot play in the Sherwin-Williams CHL Top Prospects Game. He shared the net for Team Cherry with fellow high-ranked WHL goalie Stuart Skinner.
“We pushed each other to be better. It was definitely fun because we roomed together and that was the first time I’ve really hung out with him and we got along really well and it made that whole experience even better.”
This season has also given Scott the chance to toss on the maple leaf sweater and represent his country. He played at the Ivan Hlinka U-18 tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and really appreciated getting the chance.
“It was unreal. Each chance you get to put the Canadian jersey on is definitely something special and you really never forget going over to Europe for the first time against international competition.”
The one plus to the Raiders’ season ending this weekend is the fact that he will be eligible to play for the Canadian U-18 squad again in April’s U-18 World Championships in Slovakia.
“Definitely that was a thing that I’ve been looking at a little bit for after the season but I just need to stay focused on finishing the season out strong and see where it goes after that.”
Like most WHL goalies, Scott works hard when he is away from his WHL team with a hockey academy. He happened to have a good school in his hometown to pick.
“I work with the World Pro Goaltending Academy out of Calgary. I just liked working out there and I liked the style of teaching an they were a big help when I started goaltending at getting the basics down and I still go back to them to work on my game and get rid of any bad habits I picked up over the season.”
Scott will work with them this summer on two big attributes of a goalie’s game.
“I need to get quicker and faster and that will help me improve. I just need to get on the ice a bit and get my technical side down too.”
The NHL’s Central Scouting service felt strongly enough about Scott’s potential that they listed him second among North American goalies on their midterm rankings. His stock has risen as the year has gone on which speaks to his confidence and ability to improve.