Like most who play the position, Haliburton County Huskies netminder Aidan Spooner had to learn to love being a goalie.
The six-foot, seven-inch native of Maple, ON has been a huge hit with the Dogs since signing in October. Across 13 games, he has eight wins, three shutouts, a goals against average (GAA) of 2.12 and an impressive .930 save percentage.
He and rookie teammate, Tyler Hodges, have backstopped the stingy Huskies to second place in the South/East Conference, conceding just 53 goals – the fewest in the league. Reflecting on his junior hockey career in a recent interview with The Highlander, Spooner admitted all his accomplishments, including a season playing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, could be traced back to a “spur of the moment” decision 13 years ago.
“I started playing organized hockey when I was seven years old. My dad was my first coach… our team didn’t have a goalie, so he threw me in net for our first game and I got a shutout. I kind of just rolled with being a goalie from that point forward,” Spooner said.
The 20-year-old featured for the Vaughan Kings during his formative years, going on to play AAA with the Toronto Marlboros, York Simcoe Express and Barrie Colts. He made a name for himself on the minor circuit and was expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 OHL U18 priority selection. The Frontenacs drafted Spooner first overall. He attended camp that summer but didn’t crack the opening night roster.
He signed with the Caledon Golden Hawks of the Provincial Junior Hockey League on the understanding he’d be playing major junior the following season. Then COVID-19 hit, shuttering hockey for over a year. Spooner said he treated the layoff as if it were an extended off-season, working with Frontenacs coaches virtually to improve his game.
That paid off when, on Oct. 9, 2021, he made his OHL debut against the Mississauga Steelers.
The young goalie finished the season with 19 appearances, including 10 wins, a 3.59 GAA and .885 save percentage. He said Anaheim Ducks forward Mason McTavish is the best player he’s faced, but reserved special praise for Frontenacs teammate Shane Wright, who was recently drafted fourth overall by the Seattle Kraken in the 2022 NHL entry draft. “I had a lot of very skilled teammates in Kingston, but Shane definitely stood out… he was given exceptional status for a reason – he’s an unbelievable hockey player,” Spooner said. “I’m really proud of him and know he’s going to have an incredible career in the NHL.” Spooner landed in Haliburton early this season after an ill-fated spell south of the border with the Sioux Falls Stampede. Suffering from homesickness, he returned to Ontario after playing one game with the United States Hockey League outfit. It was Huskies’ winger Ty Collins, a former teammate, that helped bring the big-bodied goalie to the Highlands. “I feel very welcomed here. I get a peaceful vibe in Haliburton County. I’m excited to finish my junior hockey career here,” he said.
“We’re one of the top teams and we can see that in the way teams are always amped up to play us. We just need to make sure we’re taking things day by day, working hard and maintaining our focus. It’s all about putting ourselves in the best position possible to win.”