The Brandon Wheat Kings have been home to local goaltender Carson Bjarnason this season.
The rookie cracked the WHL roster at the young age of 16, despite not being selected in the 15 round Bantam Entry Draft. Bjarnason earned the backup duty for the season and has a record of 8-9-1 with a save percentage of 0.882.
The Carberry product says he has learned a ton from playing at this level.
"There's going to be ups and downs in a season, and you can only control what's in your power. You have to let the rest figure itself out," Bjarnason explains. "It's important to trust the process, even in the short span of one season, it can mean a lot. Keeping your head high for your teammates is also important, so they can know you're in the right headspace."
Bjarnason has been backing up 20-year-old veteran Ethan Kruger, who has a record of 27-15-4 this season with a 0.902 save percentage. The local goalie says it's been key for him to have such an experienced player take him under their wing.
"It's amazing, he's probably the most helpful goalie partner I've ever had. He took me in and showed me the ropes right off the bat," says Bjarnason. "I learned so much just from watching him. Him telling me how to handle certain situations means a lot."
The Wheat Kings have just three more games before their postseason begins, and while Bjarnason isn't expecting to see too much action, he says he'll be ready. The goaltender has very little playoff experience in his hockey career, noting he's played in provincial tournaments but never a seven-game series.
After starting out the year winning just five of their first 14 games, Bjarnason talks about the feeling in the locker room when they clinched a playoff birth.
"It was huge, especially for all of us young guys. We've never played a playoff game in the Western Hockey League, same with some of the guys from the bubble team last year," Bjarnason continues. "The veteran guys were pumped to finally be able to get back to it and play in an atmosphere they've played in before that they know is really exciting."
The young goalie says he's going to be looking to improve his poise in the net, as well as continue to adjust to the pace of play in the WHL going forward. Bjarnason says he'll be more than prepared if called upon during this postseason run.
The Wheat Kings hit the ice tonight for their final home game of the regular season against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Puck drop is set for 7:00.