Choosing a TELUS Cup MVP is always a tough decision, and 2007 was no different. A number of quality candidates stood out, but one player had the numbers worthy of joining Sidney Crosby, Dany Heatley as MVPs of the National Midget Championship.
One Player of the Game award. Three consecutive shutouts. A 0.50 goals against average. All against the best competition the country has to offer.
It’s not tough to see why Red Deer Optimist Rebels goaltender Marc Boulanger was this year’s recipient of the TELUS Cup MVP, and the $500 TELUS scholarship that went along with it.
A 17-year old from small-town Sundre, AB, Boulanger proved this week that he can play with the big boys of Canadian Midget hockey, recording shutouts over the St. John’s Maple Leafs, Sault Ste. Marie North Stars and Vancouver North West Giants.
Like most great goaltenders, Boulanger is quick to deflect the attention to the rest of his teammates.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have such a great team in front of me,” Boulanger said following his team’s semi-final win over Vancouver on Saturday night. “They are attracting a lot of great attention my way, and there’s no way I’d be able to win the award without them.”
Boulanger cemented his status as an elite goaltender in January, when he was named the South Division’s starter for the Alberta Midget Hockey League All-Star Game in Sherwood Park.
“The All-Star Game was a great experience,” he said. “There were so many talented players and I was honored to be chosen to play among them. To be chosen to start was such a thrill.”
The 5-foot-10 Boulanger was one of the top goaltenders in the AMHL in 2006-07, finishing with the best goals against average (1.96) and save percentage (.937) of any Alberta Midget netminder. His 14 wins also led the league.
Carrying his impressive play into playoffs, Boulanger helped his team go 9-1 to win the AMHL Championship, posting a 2.07 goals against average and a .921 save percentage as the Optimist Rebels won their final eight postseason games, all Boulanger starts.
Boulanger, along with fellow Red Deer goaltender Adam Gingras, also helped the Optimist Rebels to a very impressive streak that did not end until their fourth game at the TELUS Cup: 27 consecutive wins on home ice.
“Heading into the tournament, it was obviously something that we didn’t want to give up, but it happens, and luckily it wasn’t a game that cost us a lot,” Boulanger said of his team’s 2-0 loss to Prince Albert. “We’re proud of it, but it had to end sometime.”
Undrafted in the WHL Bantam Draft, Boulanger has been listed by the Prince George Cougars. Based on his play this week at the National Midget Championship, few people would be surprised to see him suiting up for the Cougars before too long.