How important has Patrik Bartosak been to the Red Deer Rebels this season?
Just ask opposing coaches and general managers, who selected the Rebels standout stopper as the 2012-13 Eastern Conference netminder of the year and a first-team all-star.
“It is an honour for me and it means a lot to me, but I’m trying not to concentrate on it and think about it with the playoffs starting in two days,” Bartosak said Wednesday, just a few hours after the Western Hockey League leaked the news.
“I’m very thankful. But it’s not even my award, it’s like team award. Like I said at times this year, the team’s defensive play helps me a lot. It’s just a team award.”
Regardless, Bartosak is fully deserving of the accolades, which might have come a year earlier if his rookie season had not been cut drastically short due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
This time around, the Czech Republic product has been splendid basically all season. His 2.26 goals-against average was fourth-best in the league this winter — behind Tristan Jarry and Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Mac Carruth of the Portland Winterhawks, the WHL’s top two teams — and his .935 save percentage was second only to Jarry, who played less than half of Bartosak’s minutes.
Bartosak was passed over in last year’s NHL entry draft, but it’s difficult to imagine that will happen again in June. Not that he’s dwelling on what might transpire three months down the road.
“I don’t really care now about draft or signing or whatever happens after the season,” said Bartosak.
“I’m just trying to focus on playoffs, getting as deep as we can. Beating P.A. (Prince Albert Raiders) in the first round, that’s the first thing we have to do and then we’ll go from there.
“You can’t really think about next round or two rounds after that. We just have to take it as it comes and we’re just focusing on P.A. right now.”
Wednesday’s announcement didn’t take Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter by surprise.
“Patty has certainly given us great goaltending this season. He’s had a great year,” said Sutter.
Joining Bartosak on the first team are defencemen Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Darren Dietz of the Saskatoon Blades, and forwards Adam Lowry of the Swift Current Broncos, Michael St. Croix of the Oil Kings and Curtis Valk of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The second all-star team consists of Brossoit, defencemen Keegan Lowe of the Oil Kings and Alex Roach of the Calgary Hitmen, and forwards Cody Sylvester of the Hitmen, Hunter Shinkaruk of the Tigers and Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice.
The other Eastern Conference WHL award nominations:
Rookie — Leon Draisaiti, Prince Albert Raiders; Defenceman — Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors; Sportsmanlike — Dylan Wruck, Edmonton Oil Kings; Scholastic — Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert Raiders; Coach — Ryan McGill, Kootenay Ice; Executive — Bob Green, Edmonton Oil Kings; Humanitarian — Cody Sylvester, Calgary Hitmen; Marketing/business — Saskatoon Blades.