Patience is Kraymer Barnstable’s best virtue.
That wasn’t always the case with the 19-year-old netminder, who served as the back-up to Vancouver Giants starter Tyson Sexsmith two seasons ago and is now playing second fiddle to Red Deer Rebels No. 1 stopper Darcy Kuemper.
Barnstable has played just 114 minutes with the Rebels this Western Hockey League season, but he’s retained an upbeat, positive attitude.
“In Vancouver I struggled with that and that’s something I’ve really learned there, to stay positive,” said Barnstable, prior to Thursday’s practice session at the Kinex. “I know my role here and I’m just going to keep coming to the rink with a smile on my face every day. Hopefully I can be a positive spark in the room.
“I’d love to get into as many games as possible, but the reality is Kuemper is the starter and my job here is just to work hard in practice every day and push him to get better, push myself to get better and ultimately get this team into the playoffs and beyond.”
Barnstable posted a 2.45 goals-against average in 14 games with the Giants in ‘07-08, then started last season in Vancouver before being reassigned to the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL.
He joined the Everett Silvertips for a short stint, then finished the season back in the SJHL, this time with the Notre Dame Hounds.
The Kelowna native remained on the Silvertips’ protected list until the WHL bantam draft when he was dropped to make room for the team’s newest prospects.
“It was kind of an interesting off-season,” said Barnstable.
Once they heard of Barnstable’s availability, Rebels director of scouting and player development Randy Peterson and head coach/vice-president of hockey operations Jesse Wallin were on the phone.
“I got calls from Jesse and Randy and then a main-camp invitation,” said Barnstable. “They said there was a chance to make the team if I’d come and show them what I had, and that’s what I did. Luckily, I made the team.”
The Rebels were wary about heading into the season with the inexperienced Cam Gorchynski as their No. 2 man, hence their interest in Barnstable, who earned the job fair and square.
“He played in this league at 17 and was in junior A last year, so I think he really wanted an opportunity to play (in the WHL) again this year,” said Wallin. “He’s back in the league and we need him to push ‘Kuemps’, who we expect big things from.
“At the same time you need to have someone (in the back-up role) who the guys are comfortable playing in front of. ‘Barny’ brings a bit of (WHL) experience and he’s an older guy who’s great in the locker room. Those are the kinds of things you need out of your backup goaltender.”
Barnstable’s numbers with the Rebels — a 4.73 goals-against average and .852 save percentage — aren’t impressive, but he recorded a win in his only start, making 20 saves in a 6-3 victory at Brandon on Oct. 2.
“When I came here I was told I could play between 10 to 35 games, but that’s up to the coaches,” he said, admitting that most of his opportunities might come during road trips.
“I know I need to be there when Darcy needs a rest or if he’s a bit off his game. I have to be there to support him as well,” said Barnstable. The communication gap between the two Red Deer netminders is minute, at worst, Barnstable insisted.
“We seem to have a good connection, one of the better connections I’ve had with goalies I’ve played with in the past couple of years,” he said. “That’s really a positive thing because you can find yourself on another team if you don’t like the other goalie. We get along well and it’s easy to cheer for (Kuemper) when we’re playing and it’s good for the team that way.”
• Six Rebels players — Kuemper, Jordie Deagle, Nathan Green, Willie Coetzee, Colin Archer and Brett Ferguson — returned from Vancouver on Wednesday evening. The players were in Vancouver for a day and a half as part of the team’s involvement with the RCMP drug squad.
• Rebels sniper Landon Ferraro, sidelined the last five games with a knee injury, is in Detroit where the Red Wings doctors are examining the joint. Ferraro, Detroit’s first pick in this year’s NHL entry draft, is questionable for home games against the Portland Winter Hawks and the Chilliwack Bruins on Friday and Saturday.