Dynamic duo keeps Western strong in goal

Topping, Hunt assist one another on and off the ice

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Keyvan Hunt

Jonas Hrebeniuk & Jon Purdy

LET'S 'HUNT' OUT A BETTER 'TOPPING' FOR THIS GOALIE PIZZA. The platoon system of Brad Topping (seen right) and rookie Keyvan Hunt (seen left) offer Western's men's hockey team reliable options between the pipes.

Sharing a starting position is usually reserved for running backs on the football field, but for goaltenders Brad Topping and Keyvan Hunt, it’s a way of life.

“Ever since I’ve been at Western, we rarely have gone with one guy who plays 90 per cent of the games,” Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer says. “We’ve always tried to split it in the 60/40 range, or at most, the 70/30 range.”

Despite the two-goalie system, both backstops insist it doesn’t create tension between them.

“It’s positive to have two goaltenders that can step in on any given night,” Topping says. “I think it wouldn’t be fair for either of us to be on the bench for an extended period of time.”

“We have a great relationship and I think any competition there is, it’s to push each other to be better,” Hunt adds.

Hunt, a first-year management and organizational studies student, committed to the Purple and Silver this past summer having previously played in the British Columbia Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

Coincidentally, Hunt is a former teammate of Ryan Riddle, one of Western’s goalies from last season. But it wasn’t Riddle who helped sway his decision towards London. Rather, Hunt was enticed by his lifelong friend, Kyle Lamb, who was also recruited to play for the ’Stangs this season.

“When I found out he was committed here, it made my decision easy,” Hunt says.

Being a rookie to university hockey did not faze Hunt, but he does admit that he looks to Topping for support.

“I know going to shootouts every time, I end up at the bench for some reason,” he says. “We always talk to each other and kind of see what’s going on, where we think the player is going to shoot.”

Topping is certainly qualified to lend assistance. The third-year veteran is a former draft pick of the New York Islanders.

“It’s a pretty exciting time going into the draft,” Topping says. “It’s an amazing experience a lot of guys dream of growing up, and to be able to experience that was a dream come true.”

Brad Topping

But the lead-up to the draft isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

“You obviously see the other guys around and talk to some of them from playing against them,” Topping says. “But most of the time is spent with the agency you’re with.”

Hunt has a connection with an NHL team as well, having participated in the Vancouver Canucks rookie camp this past September. The occasion allowed him to spend time with the team’s top prospect and fellow goaltender, Cory Schneider.

“I mean, he’s a first-round draft pick and everything, but he was really supportive, giving me pointers,” he says.

Splitting time between the posts is a non-issue for both goaltenders. In fact, it helped alleviate some stress for Topping, who is currently completing his first year at the Richard Ivey School of Business.

“The only time I had to miss a game was for 48-hour reports,” he says. “Obviously when you’re a student-athlete, student comes first.”

However, having Topping on the bench allowed Hunt some additional playing time to assist in his development.

“I’m a big believer you have to have two good goalies and that you have to try and develop both guys,” Singer says.

Together, the duo finished third in Canadian Interuniversity Sport standings for fewest goals allowed and posted a combined goals against average of 2.24 goals per game and a .921 save percentage.

While the team had a disappointing finish to its season, the bench boss says there is no goaltender controversy for next season.

“I think they’re both very good team guys and want whoever plays well to be in the net,” Singer says. “Unfortunately, they probably deserved more time. We have two great goalies for one net.”

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette