By Miles Regan / USPHLNCDC.com
After a season of fantastic netminding up and down the NCDC, the USPHL is proud to announce P.A.L. Jr. Islanders goaltender Cameron Smith as the 2022-23 NCDC Goaltender of the Year.
“It feels great, especially with this being my second year,” said Smith, a St. Lawrence University commit. “I’ve been working nonstop so it feels really good to earn this honor.”
The ‘02 out of Westchester started 42 of the Isles 50 regular season games, picking up a league-best 27 victories. He also led the NCDC in total saves (1418) and minutes (2446) and posted career-best marks in every statistical category including save percentage (.940) and GAA (2.23). Smith also recorded five #ShutoutShoutouts during the regular season.
“I’ve been a goalie my entire life, spent a long time playing goalie,” said Smith with a bit of a laugh, when asked about what’s gotten him to this point. “Junior hockey is a great platform to work on skills before college. Juniors allowed me to develop fully as a player and really focus on hockey.”
The second-year Jr. Islander will begin his NCAA career at Division I this fall. He’s excited to compete for the starting role upon his arrival to Canton, but has some business to take care of on Long Island first. P.A.L. will be playing in its first-ever Dineen Cup Final this weekend, and the team’s rode Smith all the way there.
The 6-foot-1-inch netminder has had a fantastic playoffs so far. The Jr. Islanders swept Rockets Hockey Club 2-0 in the first round thanks to a 2-1 Game 2 victory in which Smith saved 44 of 45 (.978) shots faced. His strong play continued in the second round against Mercer, whom P.A.L. also swept 2-0. Smith stopped 43 of 44 (.977) in Game 1 and 50 of 52 (.962) in Game 2, helping the Junior Isles secure an overtime victory in each.
Smith has surrendered just eight goals across four playoff starts, the fewest of any NCDC netminder who advanced past the first round, but doesn’t want to bear too much of the credit. He knows it’s a team game and is sure to sing his teammates’ praises whenever necessary.
“We’re a close team. There are almost too many guys who get to the rink early and stay way later than they should. We play with confidence because of how hard we work to hone our skills and are confident our game plan will lead to success.”
Smith and the Junior Islanders will face the South Shore Kings in the Dineen Cup Finals this weekend. Game 1 puck drop will be held at 5 p.m. EST on Friday, March 31 at Northwell Health Ice Center. The entirety of the three game series will be held at P.A.L.‘s home rink, the rink on which the 2023 Goaltender of the Year has won 10 straight starts.