Records were made to be broken.
But in the mind of Victoria Royals goaltender Griffen Outhouse, the focus remains squarely on picking up four points on the road this weekend as his team pays a visit to Prospera Place and the Langley Events Centre while battling to stay near the top of the B.C. Division.
That’s how it’s been for the past 165 regular season games of his Western Hockey League career; focused on playing his career 60 minutes at a time.
Except Friday night, or Saturday alternatively, Outhouse will play in the 166th game of his WHL career, all with the Royals. That’ll pass his former goaltending partner, Coleman Vollrath, for first all-time in games played among Royals goaltenders.
“It’s pretty cool to be in this position,” noted Outhouse. “I didn’t really see this as something that would happen when I come into the league in 2015. [I’m] honoured to be able to break that.”
For a franchise that began play as the Chilliwack Bruins in the 2006-07 WHL Regular Season, then became the Royals at the start of the 2011-12 WHL Regular Season, the history many other WHL teams have written in their 50-plus years of history is still in the early stages for the B.C. Division club.
Ahead of Friday’s tilt against the Kelowna Rockets, the Royals have played 882 WHL regular season games. Game 166 for Outhouse will mean he’s appeared in 18.80 per cent of the Royals’ regular season games, surpassing the likes of Vollrath’s 165 games and an impressive 141 games by Lucas Gore from 2007 through to 2011.
“It’ll always be something you have to put in perspective long after Outhouse has moved on and become a pro goaltender,” said Royals General Manage Cameron Hope. “Everybody else will use his time here as a measuring stick.”
“While we’re in it, it’s hard to know exactly how big an impact he’s made.”
The moment Outhouse is about to experience, breaking a record so soon after it was set, is one Vollrath knows all too well. Vollrath, who was drafted by the Bruins, but made his debut with the Royals, recalled chatting with Gore about surpassing his records. At the time, the two reminisced about the shared time at the team’s training camp back in the day, all of eight years ago.
“It’s funny because you feel like you take something away from a guy, but Lucas was so happy for me and right now I’m so happy for Griffen that he’s breaking those records and he’s more than deserving of those,” said Vollrath. “It’s cool to pass the torch a little bit in that sense as well.”
The games played record that is about to be Outhouse’s isn’t his only franchise mark either. Entering the weekend, Outhouse is already the franchise leader for victories with 98 and the easy math shows he’ll reach 100 sooner rather than later.
“We have two games this weekend so it’d be nice to have that this weekend,” noted the product of Likely, B.C. “I’m not really too focused on those numbers, I’m just trying to win every game that I play in.”
His 4,715 saves rank first all-time for the Royals’ franchise as well, a number he’ll add to in the Royals’ 50 remaining games this season. The 5,135 shots he’s faced so far makes him the first goaltender in franchise history to face more than 5,000 shots. His next shutout will also overtake Gore’s career mark of 10 for the franchise lead.
Earlier this season, Outhouse became the first goaltender in the franchise’s history to surpass 9,000 minutes played. It seems inevitable that he’ll also surpass 10,000 minutes before the season is done. The records will put Outhouse’s name in the Royals’ record books, but the individual moments still define his career in his mind.
“For me, it was just a lot of fun getting into the league, getting a shutout in my first start,” continued Outhouse. “That’s something that stuck out to me. My first-ever Game Seven last Vancouver, winning that one was pretty exciting.”
Though he took the loss, Outhouse can lay claim to playing in the longest playoff game in Canadian Hockey League history on April 2, 2017. He’s also saving room in his WHL memory bank for an Ed Chynoweth Cup, ready to give one last push as his junior hockey career draws to a close.
When it comes to the guy breaking the record, Hope and Vollrath are both in agreement that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
“It seems to be a recurring theme in the last three years,” added Hope. “In terms of a highlight, there’s just so many that they blend [together].
“He’s really been a highlight-reel goalie individually.”
Originally listed by the Royals after the WHL Bantam Draft, he was passed up through all 222 selections before the Royals took a chance on him. Seeing how it turned out, the former NHL executive believes the same situation will ring true for a goaltender passed over in the NHL Draft and still looking to play professionally next season.
“He already does everything at the highest professional level,” added Hope. “Goaltending is a very specific craft and I think that he’s pinned down the physical and mental part of it to [have] success.
“I think where the real problem is that scouting and assessing goaltenders is a real blind spot in hockey.”
While many of Vollrath’s records will change upon the completion of Outhouse’s WHL career, the Calgary, Alta. product believes in the importance of that process, especially for young franchise.
“I think that it sets a standard for guys coming into the future,” added Vollrath. “If a goalie that’s just drafted looks at the history of the goaltending that the team has had, you can look at it as a way to motivate yourself.”
Outhouse has his mind on playing professionally once the final buzzer comes on his WHL career. He also admitted while it’s cool to set the records, he’s rooting just as hard for his successors to take a run at it.
“I hope the Royals have success in the future even when I’m gone. I’d be really happy if they’re able to break some of the records that I’ve got.”