Thrashers high on young goaltenders

Chris Carrozzi and Ed Pasquale are in the dark about the next step of their hockey careers.

The Thrashers' goaltending prospects will come to training camp in September and their performance will determine where they will play next season.

No pressure.

Both Carrozzi and Pasquale had impressive junior seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. Joined by Alex Kangas, who will return for his senior season at the University of Minnesota, the trio took part in the Thrashers' prospect development camp, which ended Tuesday. Just talking about the three prospects is enough to make general manager Rick Dudley smile.

“I don’t even know how we can discern between the three of them but we feel pretty comfortable that one of them is going to turn out to be a dandy,” Dudley said.

Carrozzi (6 feet 3, 190 pounds) was named the OHL goaltender of the year playing for Mississauga. In 38 games, he went 19-10-5 with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He tied for the league lead with five shutouts and was second in GAA.

“It was a big year for me,” Carrozzi said. “ ... I found I was way more consistent. I was able to bring it every night and be aggressive and not get down on myself if I had a bad game. I’d bounce right back.”

Carrozzi, a sixth-round pick (No. 154) in 2008, said he hopes to perform well enough in training camp to play professionally next season, either in the AHL or the ECHL.

“I don’t think I would get anything out of another year of junior,” Carrozzi said. “Hopefully I go to a high level of pro and I play a lot of games. That’s obviously the goal, to develop and see some action.”

Pasquale (6-2, 220) appeared in 51 games for Saginaw last season. He went 27-17-5 with a 3.17 GAA and a .916 save percentage after starting the season with a case of mononucleosis. Dudley said Pasquale excelled during the playoffs. He went 2-3-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .941 save percentage while Saginaw lost a first-round series in six games to heavily favored Kitchener.

“He was brilliant [during the season] but in the playoffs, he was the best goaltender in the OHL easily,” Dudley said. “I watched him play three games and he was the first star all three games.”

Pasquale, a fourth-round pick (No. 117) in 2009, said he is not sure what the future will bring.

“Hopefully I will have a good camp and they put me somewhere I can develop and help me down the road,” Pasquale said. “ ... I just want to play. It doesn’t matter what league I’m in. I just don’t want to sit on the bench and watch. It doesn’t help you develop as a hockey player.”

As a junior, Kangas was second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a .917 save percentage in conference games and fourth with a 2.46 GAA. Overall, Kangas (6-2, 190) went 16-15-1. He was a fifth-round pick (No. 135) in 2006.

“[Kangas] put up good numbers and is highly, highly thought of,” Dudley said. “I haven’t seen him as much as [Carrozzi and Pasquale] but our scouts love him. I saw him this year and he played well. He’s a talented guy.”