*Photo Credit : Junior Night In Manitoba @juniornightmb *
Goaltending offers that chance to be the centre of attention, and to thrive off the pressure of being the team’s last line of defence. On the other hand, goaltenders easily feel responsible for a loss, especially when they’re not on top of their game. Goaltending across all sports is the ultimate mental game.
Three years as one of the goaltenders for the MMJHL’s River East Royal Knights, who won only nine games in three seasons between 2017 and 2020, was far from easy for Evan Baty. Resilience and a desire to compete pushed Baty to stay with the Knights over the years, and approach each game prepared for the awaiting challenge. Averaging over 40 saves a game for the Knights established Baty as a top goalie in the MMJHL, even if wins were few and far between.
Coming into Baty’s graduating season in 2020-21, the St. Boniface Riels improved their goaltending situation by acquiring the veteran, who was eager for opportunity with an organization on the rise. Baty’s size and solid technical play brought another level of confidence to the Riels group. Many players expressed that they look at Baty as a role model on the team and around the league. Though the 2021 season was cut short, the Riels are confident that Baty would have helped them compete for a league championship.
Q: What motivated you to keep coming back for more each season?
EB: Well playing with the Knights, we didn’t have a ton of success so there were a few guys who didn’t continue to play each year, but for me I think I just really wanted to play. I have such a passion for the game, and I always enjoyed coming to the rink even though things didn’t really go the way we wanted… I always liked the challenge of getting so many shots and knowing that no game would ever be easy to play in… Really wanted to continue playing at a competitive level.
Q: What about that transition to the Riels club?
EB: Coming to the Riels, I thought it was a really good experience. Everyone was super welcoming and the coaches were really good. It seemed like everyone in the dressing room got along which was great. It was nice to have a goalie coach too in Matt Khran! We didn’t have one in my third year in River East so it was nice to do that kind of stuff again.
Q: Talk about some of your playing strengths. What’s at the core of your game?
EB: I just tried to be the calming presence in the net that would give the guys confidence to take chances offensively, and if things didn’t work out or there was a turnover, then they’d always have someone to rely on back in net that would make the big save when he needed too.
Q: Are there any specific moments where you were really proud of the River East team? Other proud moments in the league?
EB: Ya my first win in the league was actually against the Riels… That first win in the league was a great moment for me. That first regular season game I got to start with the Riels against Pembina Valley was another proud moment. The previous two seasons with River East, we had our season opener in Pembina Valley, and we got beat up pretty bad, so to go in there in my last year and get the first win of the season, that was a pretty cool moment for me.
*Photo Credit: Nicholas Van Seggelen*
“I just tried to be the calming presence in the net that would give the guys confidence to take chances offensively…”
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your teammates that you were playing with before, either Riels or Knights players?
EB: For the Knights, they haven’t had a lot of success in the past few years, so it’s important to stay positive and not get down on yourself when you’re losing a lot of games. As far as the Riels, just enjoy being able to play hockey at a high level because it doesn’t last forever.
Q: Well said! What about you? Any aspirations to continue playing competitively? Stay involved with hockey by other means?
EB: I plan to look into playing senior hockey somewhere! In October before the shutdown, I was working at the Winnipeg Ice Lab which is the goaltending development program at the Iceplex. The head guy, Andy Kollar, I really like him. He’s a good guy and good coach too. I’ve built a good relationship with him through training and kept going there! I definitely want to stay involved with hockey however I can because I love to be at the rink.
Q: Any specific coaches or teammates that you want to call out for their support?
EB: For my first two years in River East we had a goalie coach, Gordie Tumilson, who was an ex-Winnipeg Jet in the WHA days with Bobby Hull. He didn’t know all the new technical stuff, but just the mental side of goaltending, and having experience at the highest level, he really made sure we didn’t get too down on ourselves when losing the majority of games in River East. He was really good for me, just someone to talk to about goaltending. Really appreciate the support that he provided.
Q: So what about outside of hockey? What’s been the focus since October?
EB: Most of my focus has been on working as a delivery driver which I really enjoy. It’s nice to just throw on a podcast and drive around, plus it’s been busy! Outside of work, just trying to stay active, working out as much as I can at home. Also trying to get outside too now that it has warmed up.
On behalf of the Riels organization, congratulations on the four-year MMJHL career, Evan!
Regular Season Stats
2017 – 2018
(with Royal Knights)
2018 – 2019
(with Royal Knights)
2019 – 2020
(with Royal Knights)
|2020 – 2021||3||159:00||4.53||.897||1||2||0|