Sexsmith quietly goes about business

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Tyson Sexsmith's homecoming might not have gone according to plan.

But last Friday's 6-3 loss to the Calgary Hitmen is one of the very few speedbumps on the Vancouver Giants goaltender's resume.

Sexsmith has, once again, been among the league leaders in every goaltending statistic this season.

But, much like Hitmen goaltender Martin Jones, his numbers tend to get lost in the shuffle.

His 25 wins are second to Jones' 28. He's also among the best in goal-against average (2.13) and save percentage (.901) -- not to mention, he's the WHL's all-time shutout king with 22 goose eggs.

Not bad for the player voted 'most overated' two years ago by a Tri-City Herald poll.

Hey, it's not easy being good.

Sexsmith saw his recent matchup against Jones as a battle among, arguably, the league's top two 'tenders.

"I guess you could say that," Sexsmith said before his team was beaten for just the fourth time in regulation this season.

"It's a battle between the two best teams, that's for sure.

"Every night, you want to outplay the other team's goaltender. It's always a challenge for anyone to outplay their arch-nemesis."

But playing for a powerhouse Giants squad, the Priddis, Alta., product never seems to get the credit he obviously deserves. That, he said, comes with the territory.

"It's a hard thing to do to play for such a good team because you face a limited number of shots every night.

"Those are the hard games -- when you only 10-15 shots on average. Just trying to stay in it mentally is tough to do.

"But when you do get a shot, it's usually a good scoring chance that we give up, so it's that much harder when it does come around."

Giants left-winger Evander Kane, who recently won gold with Team Canada's world junior squad, said his 'tender rarely gets the credit he deserves.

"I think he's a reason why our team has a lot of success," Kane said. "When we need him, he's always there.

"It's tough, not getting a lot of shots and having to stay on top of your game. But you have to be ready at all times, and I think he does a really good job of that.

"He's one of the best goalies in the league."

The Giants' loss in Calgary has been their lone setback on a seven-game road trip that wraps up tomorrow night in Kelowna.

The G-Men lead the Tri-City Americans by a dozen points -- with two games in hand -- as the WHL season heads down the home stretch.

They trail the Hitmen by five points, but with five games in hand, that's hardly a insurmountable obstacle.

And it's also something the Giants desperately want.

"We want to be the best we can be," Sexsmith said. "We always want to push ourselves to be that much better. Home ice is a big thing in this league, or any league for that matter.

"If you can get home ice, it gives you that much more of an advantage coming down the stretch for the rest of the season."

The San Jose Sharks prospect said Vancouver was expected to enter a rebuilding process this season.

But, when the team just kept winning, goals changed quickly.

"It was supposed to be a rebuilding year," he said. "We made a couple of trades at the deadline to improve our team that much more.

"But, right from the start, we didn't have a lot of skilled guys. We have a lot of hard-working guys. They're gritty guys who are willing to pay the price to be successful.

"And that's why we've had a lot of success this year."

And it's also part of the reason why Sexsmith, who won a Memorial Cup in 2007, will have a chance to win it all again this spring.


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