Sports

Windsor Spitfires GM believes Caledon goalie is best in his age class

May 7, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ROBERT BELARDI

Hockey players are often recognized for goals, assists, and in-humane plays that undress the opposition for the highlight reel. 

The eye-candy for the fans can be mind-blowing. But, what about a split-save across the goal, or stacking the pads to rob a player on the breakaway? Don’t forget about that lonely goaltender, who often saves the day; because let’s face it, most of us do. 

The Windsor Spitfires haven’t forgetten about their goaltending and their needs. General Manager, Bill Bowler, is ecstatic, about all of his recent draft picks, but mostly, his shiny, brand-new goaltender. 

“We covered three different needs. We got a forward we think is going to be a scorer, a defenceman that will play a lot of minutes and a goaltender we had at the top of the province,” Bowler told the Windsor Star. 

The Spitfires, were the first team to select a goaltender in the 2nd round (39th overall) in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft last month. Caledon native, Kyle Downey is going to be a Spitfire next year. 

The Spitfires last chose a goaltender in the second round in 2015, when the team selected Windsor native, Michael DiPietro. 

Downey, recalls that draft and he is excited to join a prestigious organization that many NHLers, including Maple Leaf Jason Spezza, was a part of. 

“It was just amazing. I know it’s a great organization, and the last goalie they took in the second round was DiPietro and I know he was a great goalie for Windsor. I just hope to be like that,” Downey told The Citizen. 

He was humbled, to be dubbed as top goalie in the province by Bowler. He says it’s amazing and it’s what he is working towards. He wants more of this praise to continue and he wants to make sure he is on top of his game constantly. 

For the 16-year-old, his hockey journey began in Caledon. It was the first sport his parents enrolled him in. No wonder he played NHL on the PlayStation 2 non-stop. 

For Downey, it was a simple, house league that molded his future in one swift movement of the pad. 

“I became goalie because there was one game; the goalies switch every game, so I decided to go in net. We were the last placed team and we beat the first placed team. From there, I wanted to be a goalie.” 

Downey idolized Martin Brodeur. He appreciated the goaltender’s affability in goal and his traditional form of playing the position. 

He moved up to playing minor hockey with the Caledon Hawks, following one season of house league. He played two years with the Hawks, before moving to the Mississauga Reps. 

With the Reps, Downey was sent to goaltending training separately from the team. Little did he know, he would meet Scott Lonsdale; who has now been his training coach for the past six years. 

“I think, I went to the wrong rink. Scott was there. He was running a goalie camp and he said, ‘oh I can take him out.’ I just stuck with him from there.” 

After two seasons, the Reps cut Downey. The young netminder, found his new home with the Toronto Nationals, under head coach, Claudio Mignosa. 

“He always believed in me. He was the first coach to give me a chance, a really big chance. He helped me out a lot,” Downey said. 

In between his years with the Toronto Nationals, for one season, Downey moved to the Mississauga Rebels. It didn’t feel right to move for the year and immediately, he moved back to the Toronto Nationals to finish his minor hockey career. 

Amidst his minor hockey season, Downey was gifted the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia last year, to take part in the World Selects Invitational (WSI) tournament with the Oshawa Generals Selects U15’s. 

This tournament consisted of teams from across the world, including Kazakhstan and even Russia. This tournament, gave Downey a reason to believe he can go somewhere in hockey. 

“I started off strong. First four games, I had four shutouts. That really made me think. I can play at this level. I can play with these players.” 

Following five games in that tournament, Downey recorded a 0.52 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a .963 Save Percentage (SV%) to boot. 

Currently, at his home in southern Caledon; the Downey Strawberry and Apple Farm, the young goaltender continues to exercise and roll tires across the yard. He is interested in ordering synthetic ice for practicing his moves. 

He is gearing up for the next stage in his life. He isn’t nervous at all to move from the small-town farm, four hours west to a hockey-driven city; with a different family. 

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. I don’t think too much about it. I feel more confident about it because this is what I’ve always wanted.” 

He is excited to play in front of a passionate fan base. He is excited to train with the other players. He can’t wait for camp. He knows, it’s going to be extremely hard to crack the roster on this team and he is ready to give every ounce of sweat without hesitation. 

He feels his earnest commitment to the game has brought him here. He would watch himself on film from GTHL live, to work on his moves. 

He’ll be more than ready to prove to the Spitfires that their second-round pick, will forever remain in the history of the organization. 

And hopefully, an NHL berth in a few years’ time. 



         

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