After two seasons as backup, prospect Tristan Jarry had superb year



Tristan Jarry spent his first two junior seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings as the backup goaltender to Laurent Brossoit. That meant Jarry did a lot of watching as Brossoit helped the team go to back-to-back Western Hockey League finals, winning once, and to one appearance in the Memorial Cup.

Last season, with Brossoit aged out of junior, the starting job was finally Jarry's. He figured sacrifices were necessary, and he was all in.

"You get in a little bit of a routine -- going to bed early and eating well," Jarry said this week at Penguins development camp. "That was one of the biggest things. Not every night can you go for pizza with the guys. That's one thing I learned -- sometimes you've got to stay home and go to bed early. I think it helped me."

He substituted saves for slices, apparently.

Jarry, 19, the Penguins' second-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft, had a monster season with the Oil Kings.

He was 44-14-3 with eight shutouts and a .914 save percentage and led the WHL with a 2.24 goals-against average. And that was just in the regular season.

In the playoffs, he helped Edmonton to the WHL title (in the final, the Oil Kings beat Portland, coached by new Penguins coach Mike Johnston) and the Memorial Cup championship.

"I think it was stepping up and understanding the role as a starter, playing every night, managing your game, managing your time," Penguins goaltending development coach Mike Buckley said. "He played, I think, 102 games when you combine exhibition and everything."

The WHL playoff series against Johnston and Portland, a six-game affair, was an eye-opener.

"Those were some of the toughest games I've ever been in," Jarry said. "You have a few here and there in the season, but nothing like in the playoffs where every night you have to be on."

In a Memorial Cup semifinal, Jarry and the Oil Kings outlasted Val-d'Or, 4-3, in triple overtime. They beat Guelph, 6-3, for the title.

Jarry's confidence soared.

"It helped a lot," he said. "That's something you can't take away from someone. It's something that not every kid gets to experience.

"This year was my first year as a starter and my first year in the playoffs. The guys really taught me out to deal with the pressure."

And even though he didn't attempt to relieve that pressure with late-night pizza runs, Jarry managed to pack a lot into a year of strong development.

That included an extra 20 pounds or so of muscle on his 6-foot-1 frame that he attributed to "all the pasta and salad you eat every night." He is listed at 183 pounds.

Jarry works regularly with two goaltending coaches, the Oil Kings' Dustin Schwartz and his personal coach, Paul Fricker, in his native British Columbia.

"They're both on the same page," Jarry said. "They talk to each other and they go over what needs to be worked on."

He also is monitored by Buckley and, at these annual development camps, by Penguins goaltending coach Mike Bales.

Jarry doesn't see one particular area of improvement in his game over the past year.

"I think just a bit of everything -- growing as a player and then my mental game," he said. "All aspects of my game have improved. It's going to continue to improve throughout the years."

Jarry is a bit like Penguins No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in that he is nearly always smiling, but he is a ways from the NHL.

He is expected to spend another season with Edmonton. He is not old enough to qualify to play in the American Hockey League, and the Penguins are set at the NHL level with Fleury and an expected training camp battle between Jeff Zatkoff and Thomas Greiss for the backup spot.

Buckley noted that Jarry's big year should be a springboard, not a stand-alone accomplishment.

"It's an excellent feeling, but like anything else, you move on," Buckley said. "It's about the process that we're focusing on right now."

That doesn't mean that Jarry will forget the past year.

"I had that tremendous season," he said. "A lot of ups and downs came with it. I think that helped me grow as a player, and it helped me be the person I am today."

*

NOTES -- Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis, wearing a knee brace and warm-ups, skated Wednesday after the development camp practices at Consol Energy Center. It was his first time skating since having surgery in February for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. ... The prospects spent part of the afternoon holding youth clinics at area dek hockey rinks. ... There are no practices today. The on-ice portion of development camp resumes Friday and ends Saturday with a 3 p.m. scrimmage at Consol Energy Center that is free and open to the public.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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