Getting to know the GB U20s – The goalies

Not every player who’s thrown on a GB U20 jersey on goes on to make a career in the EIHL, but some do. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on the potential Brit stars of tomorrow.

While the top group of the 2019 IIHF World Juniors get their tournament underway on Boxing Day, we’ll have to wait a little while to see the GB team in action in division 2A.

On January 13th GB get their tournament started in Tallin Estonia so with a month to go, we’re starting a three part series looking at the 13 forwards, seven defensmen and two goalies selected by Head Coach Slava Koulikov, and for part one we’re starting between the pipes.

Last year, GB went with Jordan Lawday and Ethan James as their netminders, this year they’ll have two new faces guarding the cage.

While the duo of Lawday and James backstopped the U20 side to a bronze medal last year, they’ll turn to William Kerlin and Jordan McLaughlin, with McLaughlin expected to take the starting role over the 17-year-old Kerlin who represented the U18 side last year.

McLaughlin currently is on the books for the Glasgow Clan after spending most of his career so far with the now defunct Edinburgh Capitals, who he made 27 appearances for over the previous two seasons, with a save percentage of .832 over that spell. Considering his age and how he still has some ways to go before he grows into what could potentially be an EIHL starter, that save percentage is actually quite good for a player of his age.

Now as part of the Clan organisation, the 19-year-old has been playing for the Solway Sharks, where he’s been impressing during his early days there. The Sharks currently sit second in the NIHL 1 North, behind the Sheffield Steeldogs, posting a .901 save percentage in a young goalie core for the Sharks that includes 21-year-old Calum Hepburn and 20-year-old Kyle Johnston.

While McLaughlin may be some years away from being a regular in the EIHL, he should be in for a decent tournament for the U20 squad, but he’ll have competition for the starting role from his partner in the crease.

William Kerlin has spent the past couple of seasons continuing his junior career over in Canada for the Ontario Hockey Academy, where this year he’s having a superb year with a .946 save percentage, and last year was part of the GB U18 goalie partnership with Lewis Davies, that helped the U18 side to a gold medal, and Kerlin will have fond memories to draw on when he heads back to the same place he won the U18 gold medal as he makes his U20 debut.

At 17-years-old it’s expected he’ll play back up to McLaughlin, but the experience at this age will be vital to ensure the success of the U20 programme over the next couple of years. With the senior side playing in the top division, it’s now the turn of the juniors to climb the ladder, and having a 17-year-old prospect get the exposure to this level will work in their favour over the next couple of tournaments.

While his age may mean he’s expected to play backup, if he is thrown into action whether it’s starting a game or coming in to relieve McLaughlin, Kerlin is a perfectly capable netminder, and there’s a reason why he’s beat out some older competition to take the second goalie spot for Team GB.

He’s got size between the pipes at 6’1”, and is a very capable goaltender in all areas of the crease for his age. After spending time in the Milton Keynes and Guildford junior systems, he made the move to the OHA in the 2015-16 and is now in his fourth year with the Canadian academy, on a junior team with players from nine different countries, including one other Brit in forward James Spence from Scotland.

In the league the OHA play in, Kerlin currently has a league best in save percentage, and while goals against average is more of a team stat rather a goalie stat, he also leads his league in that category as well.

Kerlin will be a regular in the GB junior set up for the next couple of tournaments, and both himself and McLaughlin will play big parts in trying to earn promotion and a gold medal this year, it will be up to Kerlin as of next year to try and help the U20s climb their way into Division 1B and potentially beyond.

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