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Did Canucks 'Steal' Their Goalie Of The Future In Dallas Draft?
By. Jason Botchford
He may have been the Canucks’ final draft pick, but one of the franchise’s alumni is confident Vancouver got one of the good ones.
The Canucks drafted 18-year-old netminder Matthew Thiessen on June 23 in the seventh round during a breakneck run on goalies that saw a whopping 15 of them selected in the sixth and seventh rounds of the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas.
Thiessen has a relationship that goes back years with former Canucks goalie Alfie Michaud, who is now a coach at the University of Maine.
“His demeanour is great, he has that water-off-a-duck’s-back attitude. If he lets one in, immediately he’s like, ‘That’s fine, my job is not to let in the next one,’” Michaud said.
“They got a character kid, no question. He’s accelerated in his development and he just keeps getting better. He looked like a pro in net when he was 15 years old. He’s pretty controlled in the way he plays.
“He doesn’t get into a lot of trouble because he plays deeper and he’s probably going to have to get out a bit more when he’s moving up leagues.”
Thiessen is committed to join Michaud at the University of Maine, where he’s set to play as a freshman after one season in the USHL. He already devours information and video.
“He’s ahead of the curve there, for sure,” Michaud said. “He’s a pretty smart hockey player and he really studies games.
“He was calling me this year to see what I talked to my goalies about. He had been watching the game online and he’d ask, ‘On that goal, what did you say? What did you guys talk about?’
“I thought it was so great. He’s really invested in his development. He’s self-motivated and that’s what I told teams when they called. He’s watching our games because that’s where he’s going to be playing in a year or two.”
Both Michaud and Thiessen are from Manitoba where they began their relationship years ago. The Canucks signed Michaud out of college following his 1998-99 season.
“The hockey world can be really small sometimes,” Michaud said. “He sent me a picture of him in a Vancouver Canucks jersey when he was no more than 10 years old. It’s really cool.
“I’m so excited for him. I was nervous following the draft, though. I was watching the fifth round and nothing had happened. I don’t think I made my wife happy watching the draft by the lake right to the end.”
Thiessen tore up the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with a .923 save percentage and a 2.06 goals against average. This season he’ll be playing for Dubuque in the USHL, an Iowa team that will have a goalie coach.
“It’s going to be a different beast for him this year,” Michaud said. “He needs to have a good summer and hopefully he earns his spot and gets a lot of games; it’s a good developmental year and then he’s joining us at Maine.
“I thought he was going to be a Western leaguer. He was pencilled in to be backup at Tri-Cities this season. But out of the blue in the fall he contacted me about college hockey.
“I was really lucky he fell into my lap. Everything lined up. We got to know each other at a young age. I became a full-time coach last July so I could recruit. I’m just glad he chose to go the NCAA route.
“He’s just a good, salt-of-the-Earth Prairie boy. His family is really good people. His dad is RCMP and his mom works at a school. It’s all happened for him so fast and it has left the family awestruck.”
Here’s hoping he leaves Canucks fans feeling the same way in a few years.
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Thiessen has been training with GDI through 1v1 Lessons and the G1 Off-Season Program. Thiessen is also a graduate of the Rink Hockey Academy Nationals Midget Prep Team. GDI Director Dan Ferguson is the goaltending coach of the Steinbach Pistons.