Growing pains for McCollum

Matthew Wuest of writes about the first year struggles of former Storm netminder Thomas McCollum who was recently voted to the Guelph Storm’s 20th Anniversary Top 20 Team.

By Matthew Wuest – – Thomas McCollum is one of the brightest young goalies the Detroit Red Wings have had in ages, but you wouldn’t know it right now.

The 21-year-old has had a rocky introduction to the pro ranks after a stellar Ontario Hockey League career, struggling with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. He is 7-13-1 with a 3.59 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage and has just seven starts in the new year.

They’re horrific numbers for a former first-round pick.

“Thomas would be the first to admit he hoped for a better year,” said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara, a former pro goalie himself. “He’s adapting, he’s working hard, but he’s a bit of a work in progress. He’ll be fine, he’s got a ton of ability, but it just hasn’t gone the way he expected it to go.”

Puck-stopping, overall, has been a “tough spot” for the Griffins, McNamara said. Daniel Larsson, a second-year AHLer, has also battled inconsistency, with a 2.95 GAA and a .902 save percentage in 41 starts.

The Griffins have slipped to the bottom of the North Division and are the third worst team in the AHL with a 25-33-4 record. Only one team, the Sprinfield Falcons, has allowed more goals than the Griffins’ 213.

“It’s been magnified by the fact both goalies have struggled,” McNamara said. “Danny started to struggle and Thomas’s starts became more important. He put a lot on his shoulders and it magnified the pressure.”

McCollum, who is still eligible to be playing in the OHL this season, was selected in the first round (30th overall) in the 2008 draft. He was two-time OHL all-star with the Guelph Storm and Brampton Battalion and finished as runner-up for the league’s goaltender-of-the-year award in 2008-09.


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