When the Western Hockey League names its Most Valuable Player for that year’s WHL Playoffs, a player’s performance from late March to mid-May are all that are taken into consideration.
Despite the short time frame for consideration, the award has had a way of ending up in the hands of a instantly-recognizable face for those in the team’s bubble. A trusted captain or long-time player without who the historic victory would not have been possible.
For Prince Albert Raiders’ goaltender Ian Scott, that couldn’t be more true. An exceptional performance in the 2019 WHL Playoffs saw him lead all goaltenders with a 1.96 goals-against average, .925 save percentage, and five shutouts while earning all 16 victories to help his team to the top.
As much as those accomplishments all came within the past 52 days, it was a fitting end to Scott’s fourth season in the WHL.
“At the start of the year this is where we wanted to be, booking our flights to Halifax,” Scott said following Monday’s Game 7. “Now we’re here so it’s pretty special.”
Selected by the Raiders ninth overall at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft, Scott began his WHL career with the Raiders in the 2015-16 WHL Regular Season. There’d be a fair share of learning moments for both Scott and the Raiders during that time.
A 21-44-5-2 record for the team in Scott’s second year sunk them to third-last in the league. In the mantra of taking one step back in order to take two steps forward, the team and Scott stayed on course until they were complete and ready for their magical run in the spring of 2019.
“He’s been a rock for us,” said head coach Marc Habscheid. “[If] something breaks down, he’s there. We’re lucky to have him.”
The Raiders were tested in the first round against the Red Deer Rebels, but ultimately earned the sweep as Scott posted a 1.75 GAA, and a .915 SV% in those four games.
Against the Saskatoon Blades and Edmonton Oil Kings, Scott faced greater challenges. However, with both series tied 2-2 after four games, Scott went on to turn aside 45 of 49 shots in Game 5 and 6 versus the Blades. Against the Oil Kings, he stopped 56 of 58 shots in those two critical games.
“Marc and I talked about his poise and posture in the net,” said Raiders General Manager Curtis Hunt. “He showed it all the way through the playoffs, had a couple hiccups, always rebounded.”
In front of their home crowd in Game 1 of the 2019 Rogers WHL Championship Series, a 5-4 loss wasn’t the ideal start. True to form, Scott rebounded over the next three games with a 0.67 GAA and a .975 SV% to go along with a pair of shutouts as his Raiders took a commanding lead in the series against the Vancouver Giants. They’d go on to win it all in Monday’s Game 7, earning their way into the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia.
The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, who joined the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies for their run to the Calder Cup in 2018, rose to challenge when his team needed it the most.
“It all starts in the dressing room,” Scott said after accepting the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as WHL Goaltender of the Year at the 2019 WHL Awards earlier this month. “We’re a tight group, including all the coaches and all the staff up front. That helps and it translates onto the ice.”
As long of a process as it has been since September 2015, the journey isn’t done yet for the individual or team.
Scott is one of the top contenders for the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Year Award while his team is in strong contention to win it all in Halifax, N.S. this coming week. From there, Scott will soon make the jump to the professional hockey ranks in the Maple Leafs’ organization.
As much as he’s won and as far as he’s come, the career and story of the Calgary, Alta. product has only just begun.