The ice hockey career of Otters goaltending prospect Corey Foster began in his backyard.
When Foster was five, his father Al created an ice hockey rink for him to practice on. While the rink is no longer up, the career is very much alive for the promising netminder.
Foster also started to get involved with organized hockey, and his enthusiasm to play in goal led to a new calling.
“Whenever they needed a goalie, I always put my hand up,” Foster said. “From there, I started to like playing in goal and I got more into it.”
Foster’s development has come a long way in the ten years that he’s been playing hockey. A hybrid goaltender that leans more towards the butterfly style, he likes to pattern his game after Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
“(Price) is always trying to put his body in front of the puck,” Foster said. “He’s also like a third defenseman, he loves to play the puck.”
The latter trait is one that Foster is most proud of. Judged by scouts to be the best puck-handler among goaltenders in his draft glass, his ability brings an added dimension to teams that most goaltenders can’t provide.
In an era where puck-handling goaltenders like Martin Brodeur, Rick DiPietro, Marty Turco and Price have helped their teams with their unique skill, Foster credits his father with enrolling him in a summer class that goaltenders may not ever consider to improve their game.
“When I was younger, my dad put me in stick-handling school,” Foster said. “It really helped me out.”
The puck-handling talents nearly helped Foster score a goal several months ago in the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs Tournament. But a future teammate just prevented him from completing the rare feat.
“I shot the puck towards the empty net,” Foster said. “But (Otters first round pick) Stephen Harper just kept it out with his stick.”
Foster had a terrific season with the Jr. Bulldogs, posting a 2.13 goals-against-average and four shutouts in 39 games.
The Otters followed his progress throughout the season, and Foster knew it would be a matter of time until the Otters selected him in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection.
“I had a very good feeling,” Foster said. “They were one of the first teams to contact me. I was playing pickup hockey and when I went home, I got the call. I was hoping it would be them.”
Now that Foster is part of the Otters organization, he was been working hard to prove to the Otters that he could be ready to play in the OHL for next season.
“I’ve been training five days a week,” Foster said. “You can’t be happy with just being there. You have to earn your spot. I’ve been given an opportunity to earn a spot. I’ve been working my butt off to get better and keep improving.”