GAUTHIER SEIZED OPPORTUNITY IN ROOKIE SEASON
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Taylor Gauthier likes deep sea fishing.
He likes visiting his family in Prince Edward Island, relaxing on the open waters, patiently waiting in a light breeze until the sudden rush of hooking something on the line.
Gauthier also likes stopping pucks. And based on the way he performed in his rookie season, it looks like the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have quite a catch on the line.
An undrafted free agent signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in February of 2022, Gauthier broke out with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.
He went 8-3-6 in 20 net appearances, while his 2.71 goals against average ranked sixth among AHL rookie goalies with at least 500 minutes played.
Meet Gauthier and Learn More About His Career!
Countless times, he showcased his explosive lateral ability to come up with big saves for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and his flashy, right-hand catching glove wasn’t too shabby, either.
“He had an opportunity here, and he’s one of the guys that really seized,” said Penguins head coach J.D. Forrest. “I felt good with him in net every time he played. Really, from game one, I was like, ‘This guy’s got a swagger about him.’ We’re really happy with the progression he’s made as a rookie goaltender.”
But Gauthier’s 20 games with the Penguins weren’t a given. With Dustin Tokarski and Filip Lindberg firmly planted as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s top two goalies, the 22-year-old started his pro journey this year with the Penguins’ ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers.
He didn’t get his shot to play in the AHL until New Year’s Eve, and as Forrest alluded to, he seized it. Gauthier made 29 saves on 30 shots in his debut, earning his team the win.
Straight Out of Alberta
Gauthier, a native of Calgary, Alberta, had more than a few shining performances since that New Year’s Eve bash. All the while, he was soaking in as many learning opportunities as he could.
“The biggest point that I take away from this year is just how hungry everyone is,” Gauthier said. “The margin for error so small in this league. … [I] realize how hard it is to win games and not be in the hunt and play in those important games and be able to take those take wins out of other teams’ hands.”
That small margin for error often reared its head in extra time for Gauthier. Part of his baptism into AHL competition came with a plethora of overtime games, as nine of his 18 starts went past 60 minutes. The rookie went 3-6 in those overtime or shootout decisions.
Before leaving for the summer, Gauthier lamented his inability to come away with more wins in those situations, especially given half his starts led to overtime. But sometimes a player can be his own worst critic. Forrest was more forgiving when asked about Gauthier’s OT record.
Getting to Know Gauthier Through His Teammates
“When you talk to him, he’s like, ‘Shoot, I missed a point there. I should have got us two points, coach’,” Forrest said. “But I mean, in a lot of those scenarios, he may have stole us a point by getting us to overtime or pushing us to a shootout.”
Consider Forrest among the many impressed by Gauthier’s emergence this season. Whether it was the Penguins coaching staff, his teammates, or even the fans, he kept proving himself to others, time and time again. But don’t underestimate was Gauthier was able to prove to himself during his first season as a pro.
“I think I proved that I can be here,” Gauthier said. “I have the tools and the ability to be a really good goalie in this league. My mindset going into next year is just trying not to leave anyone with any doubts about my ability.”
With that mindset cultivated, Gauthier finally has a chance to relax after pushing his focus to the brink during all of those overtimes. Hopefully no feisty Atlantic bluefin takes him into extra time.
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