Starring Role

Candice Ward/Photo

There’s a golden opportunity there for the taking.

After a season filled with ups and downs, Hitmen goaltender Matthew Armitage has his eyes set on the starting job next season with the departure of Nick Schneider.

The 18-year-old goaltender did find his groove at the end of the regular season and he’s hoping he can carry that over to next year.

“It showed that I belong in this league and that I’m comfortable playing in it,” he said. “I’m going to try and carry that over to next season and build off that stretch and continue to be confident in myself.

“I’m going to give everything that I have to make that starting position mine.”

In his final four starts of the campaign, Armitage set a mark of 3-0-1 with a sparkling .931 SV% to boost his overall numbers, ending with a record of 4-7-1, to go along with a 3.55 GAA and a .890 SV%.

Although it took some time for the netminder to record his first career WHL win – a 6-5 shootout victory over the Kamloops Blazers on Feb. 3 – his work ethic and approach to the game remained unchanged, which ultimately paid dividends.

“I couldn’t have done it without Barbs (Jason LaBarbera) and Schneids (Schneider),” he said. “They taught me a lot of things and I just have to keep their advice in the back of my mind and continue to give it my all.

“Schneids always told me to be patient and wait for the opportunity and when those opportunities do come, grab those opportunities by the horns and run with it.”

Prior to his first season in the Dub with the Hitmen, Armitage spent one season in the AJHL with the Okotoks Oilers and said there are big differences between the leagues.

“It’s such a fast league and made me grow up as a hockey player,” Armitage said. “It made me realize that you need to take care of yourself. It’s a long gruelling season and it all starts with the little things that make a world of a difference. It’ll help you perform better, recover faster and have a big impact in a positive way.

“I’m the most motivated headed into this off-season and I know what to expect for this upcoming season. I’m ready to prove myself.”

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