Junior Pirates pick up former Tradesman goalie

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Junior Pirates have found a goalie with Junior A experience, a Major Midget pedigree, and enough youth to remain as a quality backstop for the Pirates for years to come.

“He nearly came to play for us midway through last season, but I told him to wait and come in fresh this season,” Pirate coach Taylor Lambke said, speaking of Cody Smith who’ll be suiting up with the maroon and white next season.

“I watched him play Major Midget, and I watched him play two high school games last year where he had 30-40 shots each night,” Lambke said. “He’s always played on teams that have given up a lot of shots. That’s the one thing I’ve noticed, but he’s always either kept the games interesting or stood on his head.

“He’s a proven goalie, and it’s going to be fun to build a team around him.”

Smith spent some of last season playing with the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League, and before that he was regularly spotted as a backstop for the Cape Breton Tradesmen of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League.

Last year on the Junior A level, he went 3-3 with a goals against average of 3.71 and a save percentage of .890. That was before deciding to return home to Glace Bay to finish his Grade 12 year at Glace Bay High. He was the top goaltender in his high school league, and he is now ready to play for the Strait Pirates.

He was a sixth round pick in the 2017 MHL draft.

Back in 2016-17, when playing his last year of Midget, Smith and the Tradesmen has a particularly tough year, finishing last in the league and managing only two wins all season. Smith was in net for those wins, as he finished the season at 2-22. Despite the season being a tough one, the Glace Bay goalie had a respectable .900 save percentage.

“He faced a lot of rubber with the Tradesmen, and we’re looking for him to be solid and stabilize our goaltending for the next couple of years,” Lambke said.

“I had an opportunity to meet him a couple of weeks ago, and he’s a great kid. He’s mature and he knows what he wants to do for the next couple of years. We’re happy to have him.

“You look at the teams with success in hockey, and it always takes good goaltending. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

Last season, Lambke and Pirate General Manager Tim MacMillan put their heads together about how to bring fresh talent into the club, and it didn’t take long for opportunities to present themselves.

“As players came on waivers, we had a couple of picks and decided to start grabbing some assets,” Lambke said. “If they came here, great, and if they didn’t, we’ll turn them into assets via trade. We claimed Levi Denny, and we shipped him for someone to help us in the future. Glace Bay wanted Levi for their run last season, and we said we’d take Cody in return.”

The coach said the Pirates have a few more surprises in the works, and as the summer proceeds, fans will hear more and more about the 2018-19 line-up.

“We’re putting the pieces together to build a winning team,” Lambke said.