TORONTO– Leafs goalie prospect Ben Scrivens nailed it with one simple, yet direct response when asked how he competes in the game of hockey.
“You can’t play pro without working hard in the off season.”
And it’s true. No athlete can be successful in today’s game of hockey without using the summer to their advantage.
It’s that type of work ethic that’s turning the Spruce Grove, Alberta native into a soon-ready National Hockey League goaltender.
“I was around Toronto all summer working out with the strength and conditioning guys. I took a couple trips; worked with Franky in Switzerland for a week.”
Franky, by the way, is goalie coach Francois Allaire. The same man who has worked with both James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.
While embracing Allaire’s advice, the 25 year old grinded out the early part of last season with the East Coast Hockey League’s Reading Royals being named an All- Star along the way. Then when he got his chance with the Marlies, he showed that the American Hockey League was where he belonged as he finished the season with Toronto starting 15 consecutive games during a late play-off push.
“There’s a lot of learning curves I went through. I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to play at AHL level, but I also realized there’s a long way to go. Things don’t happen overnight and there’s a process to get to where you want to be and the one thing about the process is that you can’t rush it.”
Making an appearance for the Leafs in late February showed he was no longer the fifth man on the depth chart, as he was when first signed by general manager Brian Burke, but, showing maturity, the University of Cornell graduate doesn’t want to get ahead of himself and where his focus is for this upcoming season.
“I plan to build off of what I started last year in the AHL with the Marlies. You never know how a seasons going to go. Last year when I started in the East Coast I probably wouldn’t have believed you that I’d get a call up to the Leafs. I’m prepared to have good camp and make some noise but for all intents and purposes I’m looking for a good start in the AHL”
A full season with the Marlies seems fit for Scrivens but it’s too early to tell how many games he will be starting considering he’ll likely be splitting the duties with 24 year old Jussi Rynnas to start the season.
Rynnas and Reimer split playing time to start last season with the Marlies and when Scrivens came aboard it stayed that way until the Finnish product broke a finger on his catching hand.
Rotating the goalies just seems to be part of head coach Dallas Eakins’ game plan and Scrivens accepts that.
“The coaching staff down here is fantastic and I have nothing but good things to say about them so whatever they decide to do I’m on board for that. If they decide on a number one and it’s me, that’s great. But if it’s a 1a/1b, I’m fine with that too and again I will continue to work hard”
Working hard is what Scrivens does and with a full 82 NHL game schedule ahead, anything could happen this season too. One injury or a poor run of play by either of the Leafs duo could mean he gets a call up to the NHL again this year.
Whether he does or not however doesn’t bother him because rushing his goals isn’t his style and he’s not one to become discouraged easy.
“You can’t do anything other than enjoy the journey”
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