The Ontario Junior Hockey League has named James Gray of the North York Rangers its Goaltender of the Year for the 2021-22 season, the league announced today. The award was voted on by league general managers and a panel of media members.
Gray had already been named:
Top Goaltender, awarded the netminder with the lowest goals against average in the 21-team league
to the league’s First All-Star Team
The second-year netminder dominated the stats columns for goaltenders in the OJHL across every category that mattered during the 2021-22 season:
Most wins: 25 (three-way tie for first)
Goals-against average: 1.96 (first)
Save percentage: .931 (three-way tie for first)
No other goalie finished tops in two of the categories, let alone three.
Gray started strong and never looked back.
He was the OJHL Warrior Goaltender of the Month for October, which was the opening month of the OJ’s schedule this season. Gray was 7-1-1 during the month, posting a 1.83 goals-against average with a .938 save percentage.
On the season, Gray had three shutouts while making 958 saves.
Gray joined the Rangers two years ago after helping the Toronto Nationals AAA U18 squad reach the Telus Cup national championships.
He signed on with a Jr. A team with a recent history of excellence in goaltending.
The Rangers’ Jett Alexander won both goaltending awards and was named league MVP in 2018-19. The previous season, Colby Muise won the GAA crown and was voted to the second all-star team.
Alexander, now playing at the University of Toronto, made headlines in December when he dressed as the emergency backup for the Colorado Avalanche before an NHL game in Toronto. Muise just completed his third season at NCAA Division III Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Geoff Schomogyi, the head coach in North York since 2016, takes zero credit when it comes to the goaltending department.
“It’s because I got out of the way,” he said with a laugh. “I brought in a good goaltending coach and I don’t even have a say. Since then, we’ve had an abundance of excellent goaltending.”
“It’s a unique position and you’ve got to know it. I don’t pretend to know it, that’s for sure.”
That coach in the know is Rob Gherson, the former Washington Capitals draft pick who played five years in the pros and won an AHL championship with the Chicago Wolves in 2008.
Gray agrees with his head coach’s assessment.
“Rob has a really good eye and just has that knack for knowing when goalies are going to rise to that level,” Gray said. “He’s been through it all and knows exactly what you’re going through. To have him around on a day-to-day basis, it just makes you feel very comfortable in that home. You can always get feedback from him.”
Gray also works under Gherson as a junior goalie coach at Blyth Academy.