The Elmira Sugar Kings’ front office checked off a major box on their offseason wish list this week, acquiring veteran netminder Liam Conway from the Fort Erie Meteors.
The 19-year-old Concord, Ohio native is expected to step into the starter’s job for Elmira following the departure last spring of Jonathan Reinhart to the BCHL.
“He played the last couple years in Junior B with Fort Erie and had really good numbers on a weaker team last year,” Kings’ director of hockey operations Jeff Snyder said. “We did a lot of research on him and everything we heard was favourable. He’s a great kid with a strong work ethic and a real good goalie.”
Last season, Reinhart took over the starters role and turned heads with a stellar 2.44 goals against average on a .922 save percentage. His backup was Andrew Lefebvre, a rookie with the Kings who was steady – 2.41 GAA and a .918 SV% – in limited minutes.
Now, with both incumbents gone from the fold – Lefebvre was traded to the Brantford 99ers in June – Snyder was eager to add a player with a track record at the Junior B level.
“We needed a solid number one we thought with some experience,” he said. “So we were really happy that we were able to get (Conway).”
Conway began his Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League career in the Golden Horseshoe conference with the Welland Jr. Canadiens in 2013 before moving to the Meteors partway through the season.
Over three seasons and 69 games, Conway compiled a record of 23-35-4 with a 3.29 GAA and a .906 SV%. But his performance has been trending up, as he put together a strong 2.90 GAA on a .913 SV% over 33 games in the 2014-15 campaign.
“This is huge,” Snyder said. “We’ve been working on trying to get a number-one goalie since June when we found out (Reinhart) was leaving. It’s been a really hard process that has taken a lot of work by (general manager Kevin Bloch) and I, but we’re feeling a lot better now.”
The Kings training camp opened up last weekend at the WMC, and there are a number of young goalies still vying for a spot with the club, Snyder added.
They’ll get a chance to make an impression this weekend with exhibition games at Listowel Friday evening and on home ice Sunday night. The puck drops at the WMC at 7 p.m.