The Ghostriders’ starting goalie, Ethan Fitzgerald, was recognized by the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), in winning the Goaltender of the Year award for the Eddie Mountain division. The winners of the awards are voted on by the KIJHL’s teams, and go on to be nominated for league wide awards that will be handed out at the end of the playoff season.
In response to receiving the Goaltender of the Year award, Fitzgerald is both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to play alongside a community of coaches and players that allowed him to grow and succeed in his position.
“Being fortunate enough to receive the goalie of the year was a huge blessing and an unexpected one as well. It feels really good to be recognized but at the end of the day I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates and coaches,” mused Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald started skating at the early age of two, and began playing competitive hockey at age four. Having looked up to French-Canadian professional goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, the decorated goaltender switched from player to goalie when he was just nine years old.
“The only reason I wanted to be a goalie at that age was because of the cool painted helmets,” joked Fitzgerald.
Being of a very competitive nature, Fitzgerald channeled all of his energy into hockey for the better part of his life. Thriving in team oriented situations, the young prodigy’s evident passion for the sport has been noticed by every coach and spectator throughout the season.
As a rookie, the 2019-2020 year was Fitzgerald’s first time representing the Riders. Despite a slow start due to having taken the previous season off, he quickly got his feet under him and finished the season with killer stats. Recognized for his persistent hard work, Fitzgerald also received the Most Improved Player award from the Ghostriders, in addition to being recognized as the KIJHL’s first star for their Hot in the KI 3 Stars period culminating on December 31, 2019.
“Ethan Fitzgerald really turned a corner for us after the Christmas Break. It took him a couple of months to really find his groove, but once he found it he was a force and gave us a chance to win on a nightly basis. The head coaches and general managers throughout the league vote on the year end awards, and he was voted top goalie of the division, which was quite a deserving honour,” said Jeff Wagner, the Rider’s head coach.
In terms of statistics, Fitzgerald won 17 games out of 27, earning himself two shoutouts and a 0.921 save percentage, as well as a 2.68 goals against average. Saving an impressive 851 out of a total of 924 shots on goal, he finished with a total of 17.27 goals saved above average.
Looking back on his season, Fitzgerald reflects on both the appreciation he holds for his teammates as well on various successes. A standout moment for the goalie being when they beat Kimberley 2-0 in the Christmas Classic. Heading into the locker room after the game, cheering in joy alongside his teammates is a moment the goalie said he will never forget.
“We had a really good group of guys this season and great coaching staff. Yes, every team has their ups and downs, good moments and bad moments but as a team you all become brothers together and battle together as one and it builds very strong connections and friendships that will last me a lifetime. I think we had a very good season and yes, we didn’t end it the way we would have liked but there were so many positive things to take away from our year and I am proud of all the guys,” said Fitzgerald.
With a passion for kinesiology, Fitzgerald hopes to one day attend school to become a physiotherapist. However, for the time being, hockey serves as his main passion as he looks forward to whatever the upcoming season may bring.