Fans get worried when their team signs a goaltender from another team in the league that ended the season worse than their own. It’s additionally concerning to see that the new signing also played for potentially the worst team in the elite league era… But Travis Fullerton is much more of a goaltender than his EIHL stats suggest.
First of all, although not usually an impressive stat, it’s nothing short of an achievement to post a humble svs% of .890 when you’re backstopping the Edinburgh Capitals! Which Fullerton did a couple of seasons ago. The exact same can be said for his performance last season in Dundee.
When Tyler Beskorowany arrived at the Capitals in 2017-18 he finished the season with a svs% of .894. This was after posting a svs% of .920 for DEL side the Nurnberg Ice Tigers two season previous. Tyler Beskorawny was voted DEL goaltender of the year that season, yet he came to the capitals and could only muster a svs% of .894. OK, so he may have only played 14 games and came in off the back of a year out, but my point remains.
Jackson Whistle of the Challenge Cup winning Belfast Giants side had a svs% of .895 last season, only .005 better than Fullerton the previous year. Yet Whistle arguably had a far superior supporting cast in front of him than Fullerton.
If the Flames had signed Whistle, I’m almost certain that fans would have felt more at ease with the announcement.
If you had the choice between 2 goaltenders with the same (or very similar) stats, one of whom had played for THE worst team in the league and the other for one of the best teams. Which one would you choose?
Having the character and determination to perform at that level as part of a team that is losing night-after-night gives you an insight into the personality of a guy. Especially considering it looked as though most other players had jacked it in a few seasons ago in the Scottish Capital.
My point is that a goaltender’s stats can be subject, to an extent, to the team that he has in front of him. If you have a terrible D unit in front of you, you’re going to be facing more shots, you’re going to have to put in extra work to keep your team above water, you’re going to face more wear and tear than the likes of Ben Bowns, Ervins Mustokovs and Jackson Whistle. Unfortunately, the EIHL doesn’t make more advanced stats available. Otherwise, we would be able to look more closely at this.
On top of that, the psychological toll that persistently losing takes is massive – especially when you’re a goaltender (there is a fair bit of research out there about this). I’m sure he has spent his time this offseason putting that behind him and focusing on looking forward to a new challenge.
His stats when he has had more help from the guys in front of him are impressive.
In 2015-16, Fullerton stepped in and played 13 games for the Clan and posted a svs% of .929.
Looking at Fullerton’s ECHL career stats, in the 2013-14 season, whilst at the Las Vegas Wranglers, he was tied first for the most appearances by any goaltender, and he finished the season with a .910 svs%.
In 2014-15, whilst with the Elmira Jackals, his GAA was little over 2 and his svs% was .910.
He also played 1 game in the AHL and saved 34 of 35 shots faced.
If he can put up numbers like that in the ECHL with a decent supporting cast, he is more than good enough for the EIHL.
Looking at his stats at Braehead, although he played a limited number of games, it looks as though he has the capability of performing far beyond what his stats suggest from his time at Edinburgh and Dundee.
Dixon said that Fullerton has been recruited to share starts with another import netminder as well as having a backup, so any worry about existing injury should be covered.
As part of a starting tandem, this is a great signing for the Flames, in my opinion. We just have to wait and see which other 2 goaltenders will be signed to complete the puzzle.