Thunder Bay, ON - The Kam River Fighting Walleye are happy to announce the signing of Thunder Bay- born goaltender Eric Vanska. The 18 year old is a long time veteran of the Thunder Bay AAA Kings organization.
“Eric is a real fine addition between the pipes for this franchise,” said Fighting Walleye Head Coach Matt Valley. “Having such a talented, young, local goaltender whose goal is to play college hockey, here wearing a Walleye jersey, is something this organization should be very proud of and excited about. He has the opportunity to work with a very experienced and dedicated tender in Austin Madge as well.
Those two as a tandem should prove to be something special for us this season,” Valley added.
Vanska manned the crease for the U18 Kings AAA squad the last two seasons. In 2019-20, he posted a . 909 save percentage and a 1.99 goals against average in 12 regular season NAPHL games. The season prior, at the 2019 Telus Cup National Midget Championship, Vanska suited up for 3 games and totalled an impressive .918 save percentage facing the top U18 players in the country.
Fighting Walleye goaltender coach Kari Rikkonen has been very impressed by what he has seen from Vanska thus far. “I'm looking forward to watching Eric make the transition to junior hockey,” Rikkonen said. “He has shown in recent years through his performances at the OHL cup, gold cup, and Telus cup that he is more than capable and ready to make that jump.”
The promising young goaltender is looking forward to the start of his junior career. “I'd like to start by saying thank you to the Kings organization for all the help on and off the ice over the past few years. As for the Walleye, I'm just really excited to have this opportunity to play junior A for a great staff and with an amazing new group of teammates,” Vanska said.
“When you watch Eric play, expect a goaltender with a blend of balance/speed and superior tracking ability. His ‘never give up on pucks’ attitude is something I've always enjoyed working with,” Rikkonen concluded.
Vanska and his teammates have started practicing in preparation for the SIJHL regular season, currently scheduled for a November 15th start date.