Jack LaFontaine 2016-17 season capsule
After a solid 2015-16 season with the Janesville Jets in the North American Hockey League, LaFontaine was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the 2016 NHL draft. This past fall LaFontaine started his collegiate hockey career at the University of Michigan for the 2016-17 season. In a 3-goalie system, the freshman from Mississauga, Ontario has played in 11 games and notched a 1-7-1 record with a .911 save percentage and a 3.34 goals against average. Brandon Folsom at Hero College Sports News recapped LaFontaine’s first home start which which was a 3-3 tie with 42 saves.
Interview on Jack LaFontaine with Steve Shields, University of Michigan Goaltending Coach and former NHL netminder
Steve Shields is the Goaltending Coach for the Michigan hockey program. After a standout career as a player at Michigan from 1990-1994 that saw him become the first NCAA goalie to reach 100 wins (finished with 111), he went on to a successful 12-year professional career including 10 years in the NHL. Shields played for Buffalo, San Jose, Anaheim, Boston, Florida and Atlanta and finished his NHL career with an 80-104-40 record.
Canes and Coffee: What were your first impressions of Jack LaFontaine after seeing him in practice, scrimmages and maybe his first few games of NCAA action with the Wolverines this fall?
Steve Shields: My first impression of Jack was that here’s a guy that knows what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. He is very polite and engaging, a young man who is very easy to like. I could relate to him b/c I come from the same background. We are both from Ontario, both were drafted to the OHL, and we both had the goal to play college hockey in the US.
Canes and Coffee: How has Jack LaFontaine fared in making the jump from the NAHL in 2015-16 to his freshman season in 2016-17 at the University of Michigan? How has his season unfolded thus far?
Steve Shields: Jack comes to us directly from the NAHL. It’s a big jump, and we have plenty of competition in goal at Michigan. What really impressed me about Jack was that although he wants to play every game, he understands that he is the youngest goalie that we have by two years. That means he is more raw and less experienced. But he has really focused on his own game and creating a base from which he can hopefully perform at a high level for a long time.
Canes and Coffee: Now past the halfway point of the 2016-17 season, what jumps out about LaFontaine’s skill set that projects to make him an NHLer in the future? What areas do you see for further development/improvement to eventually reach that level?
Steve Shields: Like any young goalie these days, they know a lot about the position. They know a lot, yet they don’t always know why they do the things they do in goal. For Jack, this season has been about laying out a plan and a way to execute that plan so that the skills he might have can come out. Based on my time with him, I see that he has a few attributes that are very encouraging. He listens and he understands that this process is long and sometimes frustrating. He has not let them stop him from preparing to work hard on a daily basis. When I look at goalies who have play at the NHL level, they almost all have to have this ability. They need to be able to look at themselves, be able to trust their process and they need to be willing to do the work.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else about Jack LaFontaine that would be interesting news for Carolina Hurricanes fans who are tracking his development from afar?
Steve Shields: What I can tell Hurricanes fans is that Jack is a competitor, and he wants to do great. He backs up his talk with his effort. Most importantly, he’s a very polite, intelligent young man. Tracking his development would be enjoyable for the fans.
Canes and Coffee extends a huge thank you to Coach Shields and also TJ Garske from the University of Michigan athletic department for their help providing Hurricanes fans with an update on Jack LaFontaine.
More on Jack LaFontaine plus menu of previous MIDTERMS on Hurricanes prospects
Previous coverage on Jack LaFontaine at Canes and Coffee includes:
Canes and Coffee’s ‘Back to School’ article on Jack LaFontaine on September 3 checked in on LaFontaine prior to the start of his freshman season at the University of Michigan.
Our ‘Reading List’ in our post-draft coverage includes 5 articles on LaFontaine from prior to the 2016 NHL draft.
If you missed them and want to catch up, you can find the other entries in the ‘Midterms’ series here:
David Cotton (Boston College, NCAA)
Matt Filipe (Northeastern University, NCAA)
Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen, WHL)
Janne Kuokkanen (London Knights, OHL)
Noah Carroll (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)
Julien Gauthier (Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL)
Steven Lorentz (Peterborough Petes, OHL)
Hudson Elynuik (Spokane Chiefs, WHL)
Max Zimmer (University of Wisconsin, NCAA)
Aleksi Saarela (Lukko, Finnish Liiga)