The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have a rich history in the OHL. Since their inception as an OHL expansion club in 1972, they have seen some phenomenal talents come through the city. Players like Wayne Gretzky, Jeff Carter and Trevor Daley have all laced the up for the red-and-white.
On top of forwards and defence, the northern Ontario franchise has developed some outstanding goaltenders through the years. Picking just three wasn’t an easy task as many deserved recognition. We narrowed it down, though.
Our Top 3 OHL Goaltenders series has looked at the Windsor Spitfires, Sarnia Sting, Plymouth/Flint and Saginaw Spirit. In the fifth installment of our the series, we take a look at the top three goaltenders in Soo Greyhounds history:
#3 Ray Emery
Ray Emery has become a household name in the NHL. In the OHL, though, the 6-foot-2, 196 pound goaltender was just as big.
Emery came to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds from the Welland Tigers during the 1999-00 season. In 16 games, he made an immediate impact as the backup to Jason Flick with a goals-against-average of 3.02 and a save percentage of .908.
The Hounds loved what they saw and he became the man in the crease for the 2000-01 season. The team struggled with just 23 wins and 188 goals in 68 games, but Emery did his job. He put up a GAA of 3.55 and a save percentage of .904.
Emery’s play earned him a fourth-round selection by Philadelphia in the 2001 NHL Entry draft.
He proved the Flyers made the right choice by having an incredible 2001-02 season. In 59 games for the Hounds, Emery grabbed 33 wins, a GAA of 2.73 and a save percentage of .914. It earned him CHL First Team All-Star nods, as well as OHL and CHL Goaltender of the Year.
In his two-and-a-half seasons with the Hounds, Emery was a guy the fans loved and the opponents hated, judging by his 61 penalty minutes. He was a leader on the ice and ensured his team would never be out of a contest. For these reasons, Emery has been named the third best goaltender in Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds history.
#2 Kyle Gajewski
The Greyhounds chose the 5-foot-10, 145-pound Gajewski in the fourth round of the 2003 OHL Priority Selection out of the London Jr. Knights. He spent the 2003-04 season with Chatham Jr. B, simmering and developing his skills.
In 2004-05, he spent a season learning from Jacob Cech. The two split the games with Gajewski seeing action in 34 of them. He put up a GAA of 2.55 and a save percentage of .915. This earned him the Dinty Moore Award, which goes to the OHL first-year goaltender with the best GAA. .
The next season, Cech moved on and Gajewski went to work. He played in an incredible 64 of 68 games for the Hounds, earning 29 wins, a GAA of 2.82 and a save percentage of .904.
In 2006-07, Gajewski continued his strong play and earned a CHL Goaltender of the Week award during the post-season. He was a key factor in the Hounds taking the London Knights to game seven of the OHL Western Semi-Final.
His post-season work continued into his final season in 2007-08. That season saw Gajewski play in 60 games for the Hounds with a career-best GAA of 2.44, 39 wins and a save percentage of .913. Affectionately known as “The Juice” by fans, he was the man in the crease and his size didn’t deter him in the least.
Gajewski was everything you wanted in a goaltender – slick, stable and consistent. With 12 career shutouts, he was incredibly tough to beat.
The Hounds have had a lot of great goaltenders go through their system. Gajewski certainly deserves to be near the top of that list. This is why we’re naming him the number two goaltender all-time for the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.
#1 Brandon Halverson
Looking at the future, the Greyhounds selected Brandon Halverson in the 2012 OHL Draft.
Halverson played the 2012-13 season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18. He came to SSM for the 2013-14 season to learn from goalie Matt Murray for a season. Murray put up an outstanding season for the Hounds with 32 wins. Halverson, though, was just as solid. He recorded 12 wins, a GAA of 2.96 and a save percentage of .904.
During the 2014 NHL Draft, the New York Rangers liked what they saw and selected the 6-foot 4-inch, 203-pound Halverson in the second round, 59th overall.
The Hounds had their guy. In the 2014-15 season, Halverson saw action in 50 games, winning 40. Add in a save percentage of .913 and a GAA of 2.63 and you see why the Hounds had the best record in the OHL at 54-12-0-2. The only thing that stopped the Hounds in the was an Erie Otters’ offence led by the trio of Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and Alex Debrincat. Here’s a clip of Halverson with a huge save on the Otters in that series:
Halverson returned for the 2015-16 season and continued his domination. In 43 games, he racked up 20 wins, had a GAA of three and a save percentage of .907. Once again, the Hounds had an incredible playoff run, but were stopped by the Otters.
The 2016-17 season sees Halverson in the Rangers system, floating between the AHL and ECHL.
Sault Ste. Marie has had a long history of incredible goaltenders. At the top of the list, though, is one guy. Halverson was a rock for the Hounds when they really needed it. Therefore, he has earned the distinction of being named top goaltender in Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds history.