Twenty goalies lugged their heavy pads through the doors of the Janesville Ice Arena on Friday to kick off the Janesville Jets main camp.
It’s not crazy to think 120 more would have been lined up if there had been room for all of them to participate.
Last month, the Jets had a second goalie drafted by an NHL team in the past three years. And just about every goalie that has come through Janesville to play between the pipes for any significant amount of time in the past five years has been rewarded with a Division I scholarship.
“We do our own recruiting, and high-end goalies and advisers want to get their goalies here, and then Larry (Clemens) develops the heck out of them,” said Jets coach Corey Leivermann, who is overseeing his first main camp as the team’s head coach. “But a lot of the kudos does go to Larry. Because you can get a kid here and he can be great to start, but he’s got to develop throughout the year.”
Clemens is somewhat of a secret weapon for the Jets, if only to those outside the Jets organization.
The former all-state goalie out of Sun Prairie runs High Performance Goaltending out of Oregon Ice Arena—which he purchased along with Ben Cowan at the end of 2018. Clemens also coaches Oregon High’s boys hockey team.
But probably most notably he’s made a name for himself as a developer of goalies, and part of that work is coming to Janesville on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the NAHL season to work with the Jets’ netminders.
“It’s been a great situation for goaltenders for the past five years, in particular, but even looking back 10 years,” Leivermann said. “And that’s because of what Larry’s done. Larry is so established in his goalie world ... so guys (advisers) know of Larry and they want their goalies to develop under him.
“All the goalies who have come through Larry in Janesville have panned out to Division I.”
Cole Brady was the latest. The 2018-19 goalie had already committed to Arizona State when he arrived in Janesville, but he developed to become the No. 127 overall pick in last month’s NHL Draft.
Garrett Nieto was set to be the second half of the one-two punch with Brady but saw his final year of junior hockey derailed by injury. Nieto, who committed to Union College, played in 31 games for the Jets in 2017-18.
That season, Daniel Lebedeff started the other half of the Jets’ games. Lebedeff started 26 games in net for the University of Wisconsin this past season.
Jacob Barczewski and Derek Schaedig split time for the Jets in 2016-17, with them committing to Canisius and Harvard, respectively.
The year before that was when Jack LaFontaine became the Jets’ first-ever NHL draft pick, going 75th overall to Carolina.
Matt Jurusik was in net for Janesville the year before that, and he wound up starting for the Badgers, as well, before moving on to Michigan Tech.
The list goes on, but that’s certainly a pretty strong five-year run.
And not a bad resume-builder for a goalie coach in Clemens who is not even technically a paid assistant coach.
“He does it out of the kindness of his heart; he doesn’t make money—maybe for gas and that’s it,” Leivermann said. “But it’s a track-record thing for him and looks good for his goalie industries in the summer. It’s something he can hang his hat on.”
And over the next couple days, Clemens, Leivermann and the Jets just might find their next top goalie prospect out of this camp.
Check it out
The Jets camp runs from 10:30 a.m. until 10:15 p.m. tonight at the Janesville Ice Arena. The sessions feature 10 teams of prospects squaring off throughout the day, and it is open to the public.
A roster of “Young Guns” and “All-Stars” will be chosen from the all-day games. The “Young Guns” will play at 10 a.m. Monday. The All-Star Game will be at 11:45 a.m. Monday.