It has certainly been a year of ups and downs for goaltender Nicholas Latinovich.
The 20-year-old started the 2016-17 season in limbo, not suiting up for any club as he had requested a trade from the Orangeville Flyers, the Ontario Junior Hockey League squad he had spent the previous two years with.
Latinovich was keen to leave the Orangeville organization as it was in a major rebuilding mode and he wanted to play for a contender in what could possibly be his final junior campaign.
But it wasn’t until late November that a trade was worked out to send Latinovich to the Georgetown Raiders. Though pleased he was heading to a contender, with his new club Latinovich had to battle for ice time with Josh Astorino, who was having a spectacular season between the pipes for the Raiders.
In fact, Astorino, who played in 35 regular season contests, ended up winning the OJHL’s Goaltender of the Year award.
As for Latinovich, he appeared in just 13 regular season contests.
Come playoff time, Astorino, who played in 15 games, once again saw more action than Latinovich, who played in eight.
But when the Raiders had their backs against the wall last week in their best-of-seven OJHL championship final against the Trenton Golden Hawks, trailing 3-2, Georgetown head coach Greg Walters opted not to start Astorino.
He gave Latinovich the start in Game 6 of the final and he responded with a convincing 5-0 shutout. Latinovich also blanked the Golden Hawks 1-0 in Game 7 as the Raiders captured the OJHL title.
Latinovich wasn’t surprised with his efforts – he felt he could get the job done when called upon.
“Confidence is such a big part of it,” he said of playing in nerve-wracking games. “Without it, it’s tough.”
The Raiders are now gearing up for the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which begins Tuesday in Trenton. The winner of this four-team event, which continues until Saturday, advances to the national RBC Cup tournament, which begins May 13 in Cobourg.
Besides the host Golden Hawks, the Dudley Hewitt Cup will also include the Powassan Voodoos and the Dryden Ice Dogs, who captured the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League championships, respectively.
Georgetown kicks off the tourney against Dryden on Tuesday afternoon.
Latinovich is expecting both Astorino and himself to play in the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
“I’m sure we’ll rotate because there’s the possibility of playing five games in five days,” he said.
Besides wanting to help the Raiders enjoy some more success this year, Latinovich is hoping to once again get some NCAA schools talking about him. Several universities had expressed some interest in him but that talk died down in recent months since he was not playing a tremendous amount.
“I just have to get back on their radars,” he said.
No doubt some solid performances at the Dudley Hewitt Cup, and possibly the national tournament, will assist his cause.
“That would help enormously,” Latinovich said. “A lot of schools want winners.”
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