The jury was out on Ervins Mustukovs at the start of Sheffield Steelers’ season.
His unorthodox style, lack of appetite in playing the puck and quiet nature had some at the club - as well as a faction of fans - worrying whether he was the right choice. Fast forward 3,050 minutes of action later - and about 1,500 saves and people are now saying he is a principal reasons behind the club’s top of the table position.
Coach Ben Simon said: “He’s been great. All credit goes to him and (ex coach) Dave Matsos, who found him. I don’t know him from a hole in the wall. It was great to allow him to go and play for the Latvia national team recently, because it was tremendous honour for him. It was good for him to kind of get away from Sheffield.
“He is the only ‘European’ we have and for him to go and associate there and get back to his customs was a refresher.”
Mustukovs is the Elite league’s top performing goalie with a 92.5 per cent save ratio.
Tomorrow he faces Dundee Stars at Sheffield Arena - a side that he has shut out three this season (6-0 and 7-0 victories last September and another 7-0 in January.)
Newcastle Vipers have fared the worst - he has closed the door on them four times. Edinburgh and Hull have failed to score three times and twice, respectively against him.