By Len Bardsley
Jan. 20, 2006
This Tuesday, Brett Jaeger won’t have to travel anywhere to get confirmation he has arrived.
The Falcons second-year goalie will play on his home ice at the Save Mart Center in Fresno as one of the three goalies for the National Conference in the ECHL All-Star Game.
The journey Jaeger took to get to the All-Star Game, however, should ensure the 23-year-old continues to strives to reach even higher levels. Jaeger understands all too well the ECHL’s role in developing players, helping them gain confidence while making the most of their playing time. After all, a trip to the “minor leagues” in Juniors helped launch Jaeger’s ECHL career.
Jaeger was a 20-year-old goalie looking forward to his final season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League when he saw the writing on the wall. Despite the fact Jaeger turned in a solid season as a 19-year-old, playing 50 games, the Blades wanted to rebuild and use a younger goalie.
“I kind of left the Blades and went back to Junior A,” said Jaeger. “Most 20-year-olds only want to play Major Junior. I wanted to win and compete for a championship.”
Jaeger enjoyed his time in Drayton Valley, playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, earning MVP honors. The problem was his great season in a “minor” junior league, had taken him off the radar for many coaches when it came trying to break into the ECHL. The Falcons were one of the few teams willing to give Jaeger a chance, but not much of one. The Falcons already had two goalies under contract when Jaeger came into training camp last season on a tryout basis.
“I had to play above them to get noticed,” said Jaeger of the two other goalies in camp his rookie season. “I had a really good camp and it gave me confidence.”