The unbelievable season continues for Guelph Storm goaltender Nico Daws.
On Tuesday Daws, 19, was named the inaugural winner of the Jim Rutherford Trophy as the OHL's Goaltender of the Year.
Daws led the League with a .924 save percentage and five shutouts, posting a 2.48 goals-against average and 23-8-3-3 record over 38 games.
The third-year netminder was recognized with three star of the game honours on 15 different occasions, including eight first star selections. He is NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American goaltender for the upcoming NHL draft.
"Obviously it's nice to get the recognition. I felt I had a really good season, but when it comes down to it I've got big things ahead. I want to play professional hockey, so I think this year was just a stepping stone for me," Daws said in a phone interview with GuelphToday shortly after being named the winner.
Next big step is the NHL draft, "whenever that's going to be."
"I just want to see where I'm going to go, to be honest. I just want to get it over with. I've been so excited for so long about this and I just want to hear my name get called. Once you hear your name called, that's when all the hard work starts," he said.
Daws has been working out in a home gym put together in his family garage.
"Just been doing my gym workouts and keeping up with my cardio, going on runs," he said. "I'll work on my lateral strength and do my hand/eye coordination, but it's kind of hard to get any shots (on him) right now."
The Jim Rutherford Trophy is presented in honour of former OHL goaltender, general manager, chairman of the board and two-time Executive of the Year Jim Rutherford, the current general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Following our playoff run last spring Nico recognized the potential for opportunity and went to work,” said Storm head coach and general manager George Burnett in a news release.
“His decision to make substantial adjustments with his nutrition, overall fitness and daily routine both on and off the ice was life changing. His total recommitment and outstanding work in all areas has led to this very special story he is currently writing and the opportunities which will result. Nico deserves all of the credit and we could not be more proud of him.”
The Jim Rutherford Trophy is awarded to the league’s most outstanding goaltender as selected by OHL General Managers. Teams were not permitted to vote for a goaltender from their own hockey club.