( Photo Credit: USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Last night Boston Bruins 2021 fourth-round selection Philip Svedeback got the first victory of his USHL Tier 1 junior hockey career in the crease against host Green Bay Gamblers. Svedeback stopped 33 of 34 Green Bay shots for his first win in his first two games as a rookie to start the 2021/22 season. Last week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he appeared in his first contest and was outstanding in a 3-2 overtime loss stopping 32 of 35 shots in his league debut.

The 19-year-old 6′-3″ 192-pound goaltender from Sweden primarily played with his native Vaxjo Lakers HC organization on the clubs J-20 and J-18 teams before heading to North America. Placement like this isn’t an uncommon place for European hockey players to find ice time in the USHL, chasing pre-collegiate developing time looking for scholarship opportunities.

Also, this is not the first the NHL Bruins organization has selected a netminder out of the top United States Tier-1 league. As many know, 2015 third-round selection Dan Vladar spent one entire season with the powerhouse Chicago Steel before signing his entry-level contract with Boston and immediately reporting to the former “AA” minor-pro affiliate the Atlanta Gladiators.

I can almost predict the same path that Vladar took to minor-pro hockey for the newcomer crease project Svedeback. If he doesn’t commit to a team at the NCAA level after this 2021/22 season, he can sign an entry-level contract with the Boston organization and start his pro career working his way up the goaltending depth from a team like the ECHL Maine Mariners.

If he does, in fact, have a solid year and doesn’t go the college route, Philip could be an insurance policy in case the B’s can’t retain netminders Kyle Keyser, Troy Grosenick, Jeremy Brodeur, and Callum Booth at the minor-pro levels. You can never have enough goaltending, and sustainability regardless of NHL success is vital to keep the pipeline fresh and ready for those break glass in case of emergency situations.

I’m not trying to overhype this kid, but with the skill set he already possesses and frequent visits from traveling goaltending development coach Mike Dunham, I believe this could be another solid addition to a revamped developing crease motto. Let’s face it, the Boston Bruins goaltending development was sub-par in previous years, and that’s not a knock as the crease master in Boston Bob Eseensa. What I’m saying is the arrival of Dunham several years ago was the turning point of how future generations in goal were taught the game. As everything evolves in our sport with the increased speed factor of the game and individuals with hand creativity in less than seconds needed a change on how goaltenders were taught.

As much as I want a full-time goaltending coach in Providence, things have been much better and a calming feeling when bringing up the next franchise netminder. If I personally had to nominate a candidate for the job, I’d highly recommend University of Maine goaltending and assistant coach Alfie Michaud. Now that would put an emphasis on adequately developing the next ones, much like how we’re seeing the progression of a player like Jeremy Swayman. Former UMaine Black Bear netminder Michaud practically joined at the hip with Jeremy with his time up north, and Maine Alum Dunham offering other aspects of the pro game is a match made in heaven.

If you listen to any hockey podcasts lately, particularly involving now-retired netminder Mike McKenna back in the day of the minor-pro ranks, there wasn’t a goaltending coach on the lower levels, and practice direction was often done by the team’s head coach and the individual netminder was on his own when it came to training. Every NHL team has made considerable strides to make their teams better, and you really do have to build a franchise from the goal out in most situations when dealing with a salary cap.

The faster you install the fundamentals of the game, much like the Umaine and Boston Bruins staff have done for Swayman, you have to like the approach this organization takes these days when identifying the future in the crease. I believe when the Bruins selected Malcolm Subban with the first selection in 2012 and didn’t have the necessary support to excel, it was time for a change and Dunham’s addition to the organization and coaching staff was a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.

The Dubuque Fighting Saints are back in action on Saturday, October 9th, when they travel back home to the Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque, Iowa, for the second of three straight games against Green Bay. You can follow and stream Bruins Prospects Svedeback, Andre Gasseau (Fargo Force), and Mason Langenbrunner (Fargo Force) on the paid subscription streaming service HockeyTV.com website. Affordable rates for those who spend a great deal of time watching Bruins or any prospects at this USHL level preparing to go to college on Scholarships.