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OHL Goaltender of the Year – Michael Houser receives some well-deserved recognition

April 19, 2012

Congratulations to Michael Houser of the London Knights! Houser joins former Knights’ greats Adam Dennis (2006) and Steve Mason (2007) as the third Knight to be named the OHL Goaltender of the Year.  The Knights’ star goalie of the past two years tied the league record for wins with 46, including 6 shutouts in 62 games and became the Knights’ winningest goalie with 93 regular season and 10 playoff wins (add an additional 8 from the recent two series). Anyone who has seen ‘House’ play realizes his value. The London Knights are nowhere this year without the big man from Wexford, Pennsylvania.

In 2011, his second year in the league, Houser displayed his abilities to not only stop the puck; but to shoulder a heavy workload and being recognized as team MVP. He played 54 of 68 games, winning 30 as the Knights squeaked into the 8th playoff spot in the OHL’s Western Conference. A young Knights team would be bounced in the first round by the eventual OHL Champion Owen Sound Attack.  Houser wouldn’t have a particularly outstanding playoffs but earned valuable experience along the way.

This year, Houser led the Knights to the team’s 5th regular season league championship and into the playoffs with much higher expectations.  London would sweep a feisty Windsor Spitfire team in the first round and would out-duel the surprising Saginaw Spirit who had a stellar netminder of their own in Jake Paterson. Next up in the third round are the rival Kitchener Rangers, who have runner-up John Gibson guarding their nets.

Gibson and the Rangers pose another difficult test for the Knights, who lost the season series to Kitchener 4-2, with both wins coming against the Rangers backup Franky Palazzese. Games against Kitchener are always battles, but the Knights will not only have to solve Gibson, they’ll have to do so without one of their hired guns, as it appears Greg McKegg won’t be recovered from an injury suffered in game 6 of the Saginaw series. Houser will undoubtedly be relied upon to bring his steadying presence and opportune saves to the table.

Overlooked in the OHL draft and in two NHL drafts, Houser did receive a prospect camp invite from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011. No word on if he’ll get another, but this season’s performance and a good playoff couldn’t  hurt his chances, especially in light of the state of Flyer goaltending tonight (10-3 loss to Pittsburgh).  In fact, Philly might want to be quick off the mark – Houser could be the next undrafted gem or some NHL team might decide to reward him this June.

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