Goaltender Scott Stajcer understands his role with the Guelph Gryphons.
Despite having minor pro hockey experience, the 24-year-old finds himself behind Andrew D'Agostini on the Gryphon depth chart.
"D’Agostini’s been playing amazing for us and he’s the guy we’re going to run with in playoffs," Stajcer said Tuesday at the Gryphon Centre prior to the team's practice session. "He’s been doing a great job and to have the game I played this past weekend, it’s nice to play pretty good and I believe Camper (coach Shawn Camp) knows that I’m ready if he needs me. That’s what I’m here for."
The Gryphons wrapped up their regular season Thursday with a 6-1 win over the University of Toronto Blues at the Gryphon centre.
"It’s a little bit due to injury," Camp said. "He’s an outstanding goaltender so if Dags wasn’t carrying theload, he could. It’s wonderful to have two guys like that who are both very good technically, very competitive and also great teammates. They encourage each other. They push each other."
The Gryphs have four goalies on their roster. D'Agostini, instrumental in last season's OUA Queen's Cup championship win, has received the majority of the starts with Stajcer and Keith Hamilton serving as back-ups. Chris MacDougall is the fourth goalie, but he's been held off the ice due to an illness.
Stajcer has battled injuries throughout his career. The Cambridge native had two hip surgeries before arriving in Guelph in time for the 2014-15 season and a shoulder injury sidelined him for much of this season.
"We’re still figuring out what it was, but I can play," he said. "I’m fine playing. It’s just a matter of resting it and doing therapy.
"The pro injuries I had were just hip surgeries and they’ve healed up nicely now."
Although he has been sidelined several times by injuries, he's kept as upbeat as possible.
"It is tough but you just keep working through everything. Injuries happen in hockey so I can’t be too depressed about it or too unmotivated. I’ve just got to keep working and rehabbing and getting better every day," he said. "My doctor in Toronto who did my first hip surgery still helps me out and reassures me everything’s good.
"I’m not worried about getting hurt."
However, the injuries did play a part in Stajcer's decision to play university hockey.
"The decision was because I had a whole bunch of injuries and if they continued, I would have nothing to fall back on, more or less, so I decided to come back, get my degree and have something that I can work toward after hockey," the criminal justice and public policy student said.
Stajcer played five seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, all with the Owen Sound Attack. After being selected in the fifth round by the New York Rangers in the 2009 NHL draft, Stajcer played 11 games in the American Hockey League and 37 in the East Coast league before returning to school.
While he was ineligible to play last season due to playing pro hockey the previous season, he stayed around the Gryphs and did whatever he could to help out, whether it be recording the home games, getting his goalie equipment on and facing shots from teammates prior to practice and also serving as another coach during the workouts.
"Even though last year he was sitting out his year waiting to become eligible, he was tremendous with the team in so many ways," Camp said
"He helped on ice in practice. He was a great mentor to a lot of our guys who were struggling to find their way in the first half of the season last year when we went through the adversity of losing Cole Hamlin and then losing Tom Kohler’s dad, both to cancer. He was a mature guy that was a voice of reason in the dressing room, was a great guy to talk to and he was a great help to us as coaches, too."
"It was tough, but it was nice to be around the rink and around the guys all the time," Stajcer said. "Not playing is different, but I took a different approach to it, more toward helping the guys out and coaching a little bit on the ice and doing whatever I could that needed to be done that helped Camper out."
The Gryphs know they'll finish either third or fourth in the West Division and will have home-ice advantage in the first best-of-three playoff round.