#OnFire – Brian Stewart

Net minder Brian Stewart joined us this season from EV Landshut in the DEL, having posted season after season through college with save percentages of more than 90%. His defining feature is definitely his height, standing at 6’5” in his flip flops and weighing in at 91kg, he is most certainly bigger than the average goalie.

When he was signed, he was introduced to the fans on Twitter with the tag #monster, so naturally the first question was how did he feel about that? “There was a goalie in the NHL they called The Monster – Jonas Gustavsson – and I saw that it was being used when I signed with Coventry. I didn’t think too much of it and didn’t know if it was a big thing, but now I think it’s pretty cool. I try to stay out of social media though, as I don’t really like it.”

The next question followed naturally, it’s what we all think every time we watch someone pull on extra kit to be pelted with rubber all evening – are all goalies mental? Brian laughs. “I’ve been hearing that my whole career. I think of myself as pretty normal. I’ve met a lot of goalies and I think they’re pretty sane.”

He didn’t become a goalie until he was 13 and had already been playing as an outskater for a number of years. He explained, “My dad wouldn’t put me in net until then, it was expensive growing up and being goalie as there is so much specialist kit to buy. He wanted me to become a better skater first. I played AAA growing up and I just wanted to switch to goal because I loved it.”

It seems that Brian’s’ height took him by surprise as he was growing up. “It’s funny, in high school I was about 5’10” and barely 6 feet when I graduated. After high school I shot up, I was a late bloomer and grew into my size. I played junior A when I was 19 and got a college scholarship from there.” He continued, “I like to think being a bigger goalie helps. When you go down you take up more of the top of the net, so it does give you a bit of an advantage but that’s not everything. You’ve got to have puck stopping ability and that’s an actual skill, as my goalie coach back home says. You can be a smaller goalie and be one of the best.”

Each goalie has their own style, but often learn moves from watching others play. “I learned most of my stuff watching the NHL goalies play. Growing up I loved Dominik Hašek (Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Redwings), he was known for being a big flopper all over the ice. I tried to model my games after NHL goalies I like to watch, when I see them make certain saves or do certain things I try to mimic it. Everybody has got their own unique style. I don’t really care how I look. I know I look sloppy a lot of the time in net. The main goal is to keep the puck out, it doesn’t matter what it looks like!”

Fans at the Skydome might have noticed that Brian is often stretching out when play stops or is down the other end of the ice. He explained, “I like to crack my back a lot on the cross bar, I guess I’m pretty superstitious, it’s nothing other than that. I always have the same routine before the game too – I keep to myself to prepare mentally and complete the same warm up routine.”

The conversation turns to kit, and the somewhat unusual #41 for a net minder. Brian said, “A couple of goalies in NHL wear them. Back in the day I liked Jocelyn Thibault, a French goalie who I used to watch. He was the only goalie at the time wearing #41 and I thought that was pretty cool. Now Mike Smith in the NHL and Craig Anderson they wear #41 as well. I just liked the number.”

Continuing with his kit, his helmet is currently plain white, but action shots from previous teams suggest he might prefer this wasn’t the case. “The plan is to get my helmet painted, but that takes a couple of weeks so then I won’t have anything to wear. It’s not the biggest deal for me, I like to have a painted helmet, I always have. My sticks aren’t in yet, so I’m using a stock stick from CCM, I’m waiting on my Reebok ones. I’m waiting on my gear too, I’m wearing what I had two years ago when I played for Bakersfield Condors. Hopefully it will be here in the next couple of weeks.”

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