“A cat and a bird,” Riders Coach Mark Carlson observed. “That’s pretty good.”
The Catt has gotten more time in the cage than the Bird to this point in the United States Hockey League season, though it’s early and the Bird is one of the youngest players in the league at 15. He’s also one of its top goaltending prospects, signing a tender last spring with Cedar Rapids and eschewing a chance to play for the high-profile United States National Team Development Program.
Catt, meanwhile, has played in seven of Cedar Rapids’ nine games going into this weekend. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t even selected in the USHL Entry Draft last spring.
He’s the proverbial free agent done good.
“I was talking to my coach from last year, and he told me not to worry about it. Just go to the tryout, earn your spot,” Catt said. “Because even if you get drafted, you’ve got to earn your spot. If you don’t get drafted, you’ve got to earn your spot. Getting drafted almost means nothing. So I wasn’t too upset.”
Catt took full advantage of an invitation to Riders tryout camp over the summer, outperforming virtually everyone else to earn his chance. The 18-year-old from Williamston, Mich., played last season for the Victory Honda U18 team in suburban Detroit.
He is 4-1-2 with a 2.81 goals against average this season. His save percentage is a below-average .884, though it has been climbing the past couple of weeks.
His numbers are somewhat skewed after allowing eight goals to Green Bay in a shootout loss Oct. 13.
“Every game is a lesson,” he said. “I think I’ve adjusted pretty well … I’ve got to learn foot work, got to work on that. Or if you get scored on a few in a row, you’ve got to have mental toughness. Forget the first one. Other than that, it’s just following the puck.”
Even that was an adjustment. It’s a big jump going from Midget Major hockey to the United States Hockey League.
A real big jump. Players are faster, stronger and can shoot the puck harder.
“That took the preseason, I’d say,” Catt said. “About the Fall Classic, I felt like I started to pick it up. You just keep adjusting. We haven’t seen every team, yet, so there are always new things you’ll see. But, yeah, things are definitely faster than last year.”
Catt said he had invitations to other USHL team camps but chose Cedar Rapids because he knew there was a goaltending need and knew Carlson has one of the best coaching reputations around.
“I had other chances, yes,” he said. “But Cedar Rapids was the obvious choice. Other teams needed goaltenders, too, but this is one of the best teams in the league, if not the best, for development and moving forward. They’ve had a lot of success in the past.”
- Forward Davey Middleton returned to the lineup last weekend for the Dubuque game after serving a three-game suspension for actions in the Oct. 13 game against Green Bay. He has seven points in six games this season.
- Forward Bryson Cianfrone had an emergency appendectomy last week after an attack of appendicitis.
Comments are closed.