07/16/2012 8:46 AM - Rockford, Ill. – With every athlete, the need to have drive, determination, and a positive attitude is what makes them a true competitor. Not only the ability to play the intense sport, but to have the motivation to rise to the next level. Those attributes were very evident in goalie Kent Simpson’s performance this past week during prospect camp for the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Edmonton, Alberta native has had the ‘bug’ for hockey way before he started his career at 16 with the Everett Silvertips in 2007. Becoming a fan favorite with the Silvertips, he competed in four consecutive seasons in Western Washington and accumulated a career .909 save percentage average.
The Blackhawks drafted Simpson during the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (#58 overall). With Simpson’s experience in nine playoff games for the Silvertips, World Junior Championships for Team Canada, and his professional debut for the Rockford IceHogs in 2012, hard work comes natural to him and it’s something he looks forward to.
“Hopefully I’ll make the jump to pro full time next year,” said Simpson. “Obviously the best situation would be in Rockford next year, but there’s a lot of hard work that goes into that but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge.”
Simpson’s passion for the game became clear to IceHogs coaching staff this week at camp. “He’s come to camp in real good shape,” said Chicago Blackhawks Developmental Goaltending Coach, Andrew Allen. “You can tell he wants a spot in Rockford by how he plays.”
The 6-3, 200 lb goalie has the size that allows him to fill the net making it no mystery why he was ranked seventh among all WHL goaltenders in minutes played during the 2011-12 season, totaling 3,481.
Overall, Simpson compiled a record of 20-31-2-5, but made the most saves in the WHL (1,935) while facing the most shots (2,128).
Simpson made his professional debut with the Rockford IceHogs on April 14 where he made 38 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Charlotte Checkers.
“He’s best when he’s not over-thinking about the game and he was just great in that game with the IceHogs,” said Allen. “Coming to Rockford and getting an experience at the pro level has really helped him to see where he needs to be.”
The IceHogs were not able to bring in the win against the Checkers, but that did not ruin Simpson’s first taste of professional hockey.
“My pro debut was so fun! That is an experience that everyone wants and should be able to have, to make your first pro start,” said Simpson. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get that win but all-in-all it was a really great experience.”
Simpson skated with Team Canada for the Under-18 World Championships in 2010 and took home a Silver Medal with Team Pacific at the 2009 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.
The 20 year-old had quite the junior career and it does not look like he will be slowing down as he moves up to the professional ranks.
“He really matured a lot this past season,” said Allen. “The sky is the limit for Kent.”
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