Making the most of it

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

Cam Lanigan used to go to Calgary Hitmen games as a young kid and listen to the rowdy fans giving the opposing goaltender the gears, and he would laugh about it.

Making just his second career WHL start, Lanigan finally saw what it was like to be the brunt of the jeers from the opposition's crowd in Saskatoon on Wednesday, and he showed them up.

"I had one of the most annoying guys I ever heard to the left of me in the stands. He had a lot of choice words for me, and he was one of those guys that just won't stop," smiled Lanigan.

"When you get in the crease and you start hearing some of the things they start to say, you can't help but laugh.

"I know some guys, it really bothers them, but for me, it just motivates me even more."

In fact, Lanigan has been nothing short of spectacular in his first two WHL wins. In his debut against the Kootenay Ice on Sunday he made 25 saves in a 2-1 win. On Wednesday against the Blades he was even stronger making 39 saves in a 4-2 win to help vault the Oil Kings into first place in their division.

He was clearly the difference in the win against the Blades as he made 20 saves in the second period and really kept the Oil Kings in the game.

"These last two games, it's kind of went above what was scripted in my mind," said Lanigan.

"I had a feeling the first game was going to go well, but I had no idea I was going to play the second one, and when it got sprung on me, I kind of got some nerves and you think about the worst. I just tried not to think about it too much, and just play."

After sitting on the bench for the first five games this season while Dalyn Flette made his mark as the Oil Kings' no.-1 starter, Lanigan watched and soaked in as much as he could for when he got his first chance. It's only been two games, but the signs are there that Lanigan can be a confident half of the goaltending tandem with Flette.

"Confidence as a young guy is hard to come by when you don't play a lot," said Flette, who is off to a 2-2-1 start this season.

"He's built up a lot of confidence this early, and that's great to see. With his strong play early on, it's going to build a healthy dose of competition and that's important.

"Now the coaching staff can shorten the leash on myself and him (Lanigan), because they know they have two capable goaltenders coming in. We won't be getting any leniency when it comes to bad goals."

Despite Lanigan's strong play, there won't be any kind of goaltending controversy brewing just yet. Flette will get the call against the Kamloops Blazers tonight.

Goaltending was arguably the biggest question mark to start the season, but both Flette and Lanigan have quieted the critics so far.

They will push each other for starts between the pipes, and they've formed a strong relationship early and are helping each other as the two young goaltenders try to play a big role with the Oil Kings.

"In the past couple of days, we are really helping each other out. Seeing him handle different situations really brought us together and it showed me I can help him out as much as I could," said Flette.

Lanigan knows Flette is the more experienced goaltender, so he's just trying to pick his brain and learn as much as he can in his rookie campaign.

"He's been so supportive of me, and I've tried to be supportive of him, without trying to be too much in his face with him being a veteran," said Lanigan.

"He's been a real mentor for me, and he's helped keep my confidence level up."

- Blazers rookie F Brendan Ranford is the nephew of former Oilers goaltender Bill Ranford and last season he lead the AMHL with 79 points in 39 games with the Canadian Athletic Club.

- This will mark the first appearance for the Blazers in Edmonton.


Videos

Photos