GF Tribune: The hockey education of Cam McIntosh

By Lee Vernoy, Tribune Sports Writer

January 7, 2018

Cam McIntosh’s first (and only) on-ice experience during a North American Tier 3 Hockey League match lasted six minutes and 38 seconds.

The Bozeman Icedogs attempted just one shot in the third period against the rookie goalie during that Nov. 25 match against the Great Falls Americans at Bozeman’s Haynes Pavilion.

It didn’t get past him.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old junior at Great Falls High, is the Americans’ No. 3 goalie behind fellow rookies Mack Willy and Bryan Sharp, so he doesn’t get very many opportunities on the ice.

It’s a learning experience for McIntosh, who spends most of his time practicing and learning, all in a competitive environment. And making the best of what playing time he does get.

“I’m just working my way up,” McIntosh said. “You’ve gotta start somewhere. You’re always hoping for your opportunities to play.

“I just prepare every day so I can be ready when that time comes. Can’t dwell on not getting ice time, stuff like that.”

Jeff Heimel, in his sixth year behind the Americans’ bench, has noticed … and he likes what he sees.

“It is a learning process, and especially at a young age, that’s just how it goes,” Heimel said. “You have to sort of have to be in a competitive environment first.

“The best thing for him is that he has time on his side. When we talked about this being a fit or not, it made a lot of sense given the circumstances, and I’m excited to see him get challenged and continue to get better, and I have no doubt the he’ll continue to work his way into a situation where he can get better and play in the future.”

The 6-1, 160-pound McIntosh — who turns 17 the end of April — played in the Great Falls Youth Hockey Association since he turned six. He also is a talent for the soccer pitch.

“I used to play soccer at Great Falls High, but since I joined the Americans I had to let that go,” he added. “Hockey is a lot more competitive, I feel. There’s more of a mental aspect to it, and more pressure, especially in my position, being a goalie, you have a much bigger role.

“I’m just a big multi-sport fan, as far as being a coach is concerned,” Heimel said of McIntosh’s soccer abilities. “I think the more sports kids play while they’re growing up and developing, just the various attributes from an athletic standpoint, is always a positive, especially at a young age.

“He’s at that prime age where he can be doing a lot of different things, especially for a goaltender; developing reactionary situations are important.”

Heimel will be the head coach for the Providence Argos’ hockey team (in Great Falls) next season. Even though several NA3HL players find their way to collegiate teams, Heimel didn’t want to say anything about recruiting McIntosh.

“I don’t want to speak too soon, given his age, but he’s probably got a lot of junior hockey left in his tank,” Heimel added. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Meanwhile, Cam McIntosh will continue to be a sponge … watching, learning, practicing, and waiting for the call.

THE AMERICANS DROPPED A pair of matches at home to the Gillette Wild over the weekend by scores of 5-3 and 4-3. The losses drop the Americans (19-9-2-0, 40 pts.) back into third, 12 points behind the division-leading Yellowstone Quake and four in back of second-place Helena.

The Americans will have one test this weekend when they host the Missoula Junior Bruins in a makeup of the postponement from last month. Game time Friday night at the IcePlex is 7:30.

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: The hockey education of Cam McIntosh (January 7, 2018)