Mackenzie Skapski is back in familiar territory.
The Kootenay Ice crease guardian is in Calgary for a second straight appearance at a Hockey Canada Program of Excellence goaltending camp for the next four days.
Eighteen other goaltenders from across the CHL have joined Skapski, including Cranbrook product Payton Lee, who minds the net for the Vancouver Giants.
“We have had terrific success with this camp in its first seven years, and we are excited to have Canada’s best young goaltenders work with some of the top instructors in the game,” said Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations/national teams. “We want to give these young goaltenders every opportunity to develop and prepare for international competition, and we feel this camp is a step in the right direction.”
Skapski was arguably one of the biggest reasons for Kootenay’s stellar record in the second half of the season, as he backstopped the team from the basement of the WHL to the franchise’s 15th consecutive playoff appearance.
Setting a franchise record for games played in a single season, Skapski suited up for 65 contests, posting a 2.78 goals against average and a save percentage of 0.910.
Other WHL net minders such as Austin Lotz (Everett), Lee (Vancouver), Chris Driedger (Calgary), and Eric Comrie (Tri-City) are also taking part in the camp.
Being that he was there last year, Skapski doesn’t have any expectations, but hopes to make an impression.
“I have no expectations this year, just being here once before,” Skapski said. “[I want to] just come in and put myself on the map and hopefully get a shot at continuing with Hockey Canada.”
The camp consists of both on- and off-ice sessions with goaltending coaches from around the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
“You got guys from across the CHL and they all have different techniques and its really tough to adjust to, going from drill to drill, but you just need to soak everything in,” said Skapski.
“It’s fun competing—it’s one of my biggest attributes—and I’m really looking forward to seeing the guys around the league.”