Saturday, December 20, 2008

"A rejuvinated Aaron Crandall"

I don't think it would be unfair to say Badger fans have had some concerns about future Badger goaltender Aaron Crandall over the past year or so. In 32 games with Green Bay last season, he had a .882 SV% and 3.50 SV%. In 15 games with Des Moines this season, he has a .862 SV% and 4.66 GAA. Ouch. Of course, it's hard to say how much of his stats are a function of his performance and how much is a function of being on a couple of pretty bad teams. Green Bay finished last season at the bottom of the East Division with a 13-41-6 record, and Des Moines currently sits at the bottom of the East Division with a 5-14-3 record. Clearly it's hard to have good stats when playing for bad teams, but it's awfully hard to chalk it all up to the team, thus the concerns about his performance.

Therefore, I am quite pleased to post this blurb from the Des Moines Register. I know that Gandalf already posted a link in his fantastic recruit update, but I felt like pointing it out again this morning for those who may have missed it.
Rejuvinated Crandall lifts Bucs to another victory

Ryan Walters' even-strength goal 15:35 into the third period broke a tie and lifted Des Moines to a 2-1 U.S. Hockey League win over Sioux Falls before an announced crowd of 2,415 Saturday night at Buccaneer Arena.

J.P. Burkemper also scored on a power-play goal at the 18:43 mark of the first period for Des Moines (5-13-3), which has won two straight games.

Des Moines' Aaron Crandall made 32 saves in goal. The 18-year-old from Lakeville, Minn., has allowed 10 goals in his last four starts - three of them wins.

Coach J.P. Parise said Crandall, who has committed to play at Wisconsin, has been a different goalie.

"He had absolutely no confidence. We sent him home for a week to take some time with his main goaltending coach," Parise said. "Since he's been back, he's been back to calmness and reconfirmed that he has regained his skills."

"He's been outstanding the last four games."
Good to hear that Crandall seems to be getting back on track. I look forward to seeing how he plays throughout the second half of the season.

Since Crandall hasn't been much discussed lately, I thought I'd take this opportunity to refresh our memories . . .

Here's are Milewski's and Baggot's reports of Crandall's committment (Nov 2007).

A few fun quotes from Crandall:
"They're consistently one of the top teams in the country," Crandall said. "It's all pretty awesome."

"Everything just was awesome, the way they treat their players and all the help they give them," Crandall said. "It was just hard to turn down, I thought."

"If you look at just the goalies they've produced like (Mike) Richter and (Curtis) Joseph and (Brian) Elliott, there's been some studs," Crandall said. "That's obviously huge in the decision."

"I've heard a lot of really good things about coach Howard," Crandall said. "Look at some of the goalies that he's produced in the NHL. I don't see many better goalie coaches around."

Crandall said the opportunity to work with long-time Badgers goaltending coach Bill Howard "definitely factored into my decision big-time."

Obviously Bill Howard isn't around anymore, but I'm a big fan of Mike Valley as the new goaltending coach -- hopefully Crandall will be, too.

Both aforementioned reports point out that Crandall was one of the top prep goaltenders in Minnesota:

Baggot: Crandall, listed at 6-foot and 181 pounds, was one of the top prep goaltenders in Minnesota last season when he went 21-4-1 with a 1.33 goals against average, .930 save ratio and seven shutouts for St. Thomas Academy.

Milewski: Crandall, listed at 6-foot and 181 pounds, has been a part of some high-level experiences. Two years ago, he helped St. Thomas Academy of Mendota Heights, Minn., win the Minnesota Class A state championship. Last season, the Cadets finished third at state, and Crandall went 21-4-1 with a 1.51 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.

In August, Crandall played for the United States in the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia

When Crandall verballed, DPlaya had a nice little post on HIW in which he pointed out that Crandall had recently received USHL Goaltender of the Week honors and was the best goaltender statistically at the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival.

Last February, Crandall's player profile was featured on I'm not sure I can bring myself to call him the Crandallion Stallion, but I like his reasons for picking Wisconsin, and his advice for young players is interesting as it seems pretty apt for his current situation.

You're committed to the University of Wisconsin. What made it the right choice for you? There were many different factors that made the University of Wisconsin the right choice for me. To start off I was very impressed with their coaching staff. They were all very professional and all very passionate about UW Badger hockey and developing their players. Also, the facilities at Wisconsin were second to none and the WCHA is a premier league.

What advice do you give to young players? To always work hard at what they are doing, and to always be confident in their abilities even when times get rough. More importantly hockey is fun, so make sure to have fun playing it.

EDIT: I neglected to post links to a couple of posts that Chuck and Gandalf wrote earlier -- Chuck had a nice Aaron Crandall Recap this summer, and Gandalf had a nice Central Scouting post in Novermber, in which Crandall was listed as a "B" player to watch (a player scouts note if they are in the area, a potential selection in the third to fifth round in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft). No goaltenders were listed as "A" players.

Also, in October, the RLR said the following about Crandall:

"Showed overwhelming improvement from last year and is playing solid and disciplined in net, but still will give up an occasional weak one. Comes out and challenges and holds position well. Has above-average glove and is a decent puck handler.''