Yorkton Harvest goaltender Carter Phair is one of the youngest players in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. In fact, if he were born 17 days later, he wouldn’t even be old enough to play in the league.
But without looking at Phair’s birth certificate, one would think he’s a grizzled veteran. He has stood tall, literally as he stands 6-foot-2, 160-pounds, in Yorkton’s blue paint throughout his first eight games, posting five wins, a .909 save percentage and a 3.02 average.
“He has played really well for us this year,” said Harvest head coach Dan Cross. “He often makes saves that have kept us in games. We’ve been very happy with how he has handled himself as such a young goalie.”
Phair’s best pair of games happened in the beginning of October up against two of the top teams in the league. On Oct. 9, he stopped 38 of 40 of the Notre Dame Argos’ shots. The very next contest, he turned away 40 of 42 shots against the Battlefords Stars.
Modest and humble, Phair credits his teammates for his success.
“I owe everything to my team,” said Phair, who turns 15 in December. “They have been playing strong in front of me and letting me see shots. We have some really good defencemen who help me out a lot.”
Despite making the transition look easy, Phair has noticed a significant difference in the level of compete from ‘AA’ bantam to ‘AAA’ midget.
“I’ve had to pick up on the speed is the biggest thing,” said Phair, who played for the Estevan AA Bruins last year. “It’s a much better league than ‘AA’ bantam. Everyone is better and players shoot a lot better. It takes time to get used to it all.”
It goes without saying that Phair will have some learning curves throughout his rookie season. One of those tough days came on November 17 against the Beardy’s Blackhawks. Some tough bounces led to three quick goals getting by Phair. It was tough to swallow for him, as it is for any young goalie; however, with the Carnduff, SK., native having composure beyond his years, he knows he can’t let the bad bounces get to him.
“I just have to look to the next game,” said Phair. “I can’t think too much about one game. I just have to move onto the next one.”
Phair’s partner in the Harvest blue paint, 17-year-old Carson Bogdan, has helped ease him into the league. Bogdan, who has also stood tall in the crease, has played the role of his puck-stopping mentor.
“He’s been great – a really good mentor,” said Phair. “He has been helping me with playing the puck and just getting used to this league. And at times when I need help, he calms me down and just gives me good advice.”
In the future, Phair hopes to take his talents to the Western Hockey League. He was drafted by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2013 bantam draft and took part in their spring camp.
“Camp went great,” said Phair. “I did a lot more there than I thought I would. I think I raised some eyebrows when I was there.”