He stands at over six-foot-five, yet the biggest thing about Nathan Lieuwen is the season he’s had.
The 19-year-old Kootenay Ice netminder followed up an impressive campaign in the Western Hockey League and iced his efforts by helping his club win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Though the immediate return on winning the WHL is a berth in the Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Lieuwen will reap the benefit of his hard work in Minnesota.
Once thought of as a top goaltending prospect for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Lieuwen suffered a concussion as a result of a car accident two years prior and had difficulties getting back on track. When it did look like he was on the road to recovery, another concussion sidelined the former Westside Warrior.
After a 2010/11 regular season that saw the Abbotsford, BC. native record a 2.79 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 55 games, Lieuwen, needless to say, is back on track.
And while his regular season finally showcased the skills of Lieuwen, it was Lieuwen’s playoff performance en route to the Ice’s Memorial Cup appearance that raised eyebrows.
Lieuwin lost just three times in Kootenay’s run to the WHL Championship, posting a 16-2-1 record with a 2.24 goals against average and .923 save perentage. Lieuwen, who will be 20 in August and eligible to turn pro next season, added three shutouts during that span.
“The potential is unquestionable with his impressive natural size and quickness,” Future Considerations’ chief scout Dan Stewart said of the Ice member, ranked 13th among goaltenders for the 2011 draft.
While his success this year has come as a result of improved consistency, Lieuwen still has some work to do in order to succeed at the next level.
“He gets caught out of position at times but seems to be able to battle back better than years previous,” Stewart said. “He will still need some work but the pro upside sure is enticing.”
One might even call it big.
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!