A netminder with deep ties to Yorkton has quietly become the most successful goaltender in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).
Ian Gordon, who moved to Yorkton when four, playing his minor hockey in the city, already owned many of the league’s goaltending records, then added the prestigious one of having the most career shut-outs in a playoff game earlier this year.
“I broke the overall shutout record with a 2-0 win over the Adler Mannheim in Game 4 of the semi-finals. It was my 41st shutout in the DEL,” he told Yorkton This Week.
“I had been tied with Jimmy Waite (a former National Hockey League performer) at 40 since Christmas of this past year. I had a couple chances to break it earlier but lost the shutouts late in games. “
Gordon, who played his Junior hockey with Swift Current and Saskatoon in the Western Hockey League, said getting the record setter was something special.
“It was a real relief to break the record but at the time there was no focus on the accomplishment as we were still facing elimination so I was more focused on the next game,” said the 37-year-old.
“I never thought about the shutout during that game but I have let the thought creep in other instances and that is very bad! Mental distraction is huge for a goalie, the moment your mind goes somewhere else it is incredibly hard to be at the top of your game.”
Gordon, who now lives in Edmonton during the offseason, said he has had both a long and successful career in Germany, and with the longevity, records tend to follow.
“I do hold most of the German goalie records, I am proud of them, mostly the games played as I am nearing my 700th start in the German league and there is a big gap between me and the guys behind me,” he said.
“The games played is more of an indicator of how long I have played and the fact that I have been consistent enough to keep earning my time in the net.”
Gordon also holds the career wins mark although he admitted he is unsure of the exact number.
In terms of longevity, Gordon has a dozen years in German hockey under his belt.
“This will be my 13th season in Germany, my first three-years in Schwenningen, seven-years in Frankfurt and I will go into my third year in Ingolstadt,” he said.
Gordon said his lengthy career is something he admits he looks back on with some amazement.
“I have been lucky to play as long as I have, I have had no major surgeries and I took more interest in my fitness after my sixth year as a pro and it has kept me healthy,” he said.
“I consider myself fortunate to play hockey for a living, I enjoy practice and the daily routine of being an athlete, but ultimately the games is where the fun is.”
Still all careers have an end, and Gordon sees that day on the horizon.
“I plan to retire after this season,” he said.
Still 13-years is a longer career than he dreamed of when first heading overseas.
“I never thought I would play 13-years in Germany,” he said, adding “the first couple of months were a real struggle. The hockey is much better than I imagined, a lot of AHL (American Hockey League) players have struggled over there so it was better hockey than I was playing in the minors at the time.” (Gordon had spent five seasons in the AHL and International Hockey Leagues after his WHL career).
Gordon said another player with local ties turned out to be a big help in his adjusting to the German game.
“Ed Zawatsky was very helpful during my first two years,” he said, adding he “always gave me good advice and encouragement when needed.”
And over time Gordon not only adjusted, but came to love hockey in the DEL.
“I have really enjoyed the experience as I have been able to see many different countries either playing or traveling with my family in the off season or in breaks in the schedule,” he said. “I have played games in Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Italy and this year I will play in Finland.”
And there have been highlights too as a player.
“I was able to win a championship in 2004 with the Frankfurt Lions and that really stands out,” he said. “I put together a shutout streak of three games in the first round versus Koln that really got me in a groove where the puck looked real big.
“In 2005 the year of the last lock out I played with NHLers Doug Weight and Stephane Robidas, and we were lucky to have Brad McCrimmon come be our assistant coach. Brad passed in the Jaroslav plane crash this past fall.
“Brad Harrison from Yorkton was my trainer in Frankfurt, he now works for the Oilers, and that was incredibly special too. We played youth hockey in Yorkton together and for the two of us to share some of the experiences together was amazing.”