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Daniel Altshuller: Not an easy ride

Special Thanks to Chris Messina

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Daniel Altshuller has gained a reputation as being a top notch goaltender the past couple seasons, now he’s getting a chance to do it in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals.

The seventeen-year-old was acquired by the Generals from the Belleville Bulls this past summer. The Bulls already had Malcom Subban (who is a top rated goaltending prospect in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft) in net and wouldn’t have been able to give Alsthuller substantial playing time. For the young goaltender the trade has worked out well.

The Ottawa native has been Oshawa’s number-one-goalie appearing in 20 games with a record of 6-12-2, a .897 save percentage and a goals against average of 3.64. Altshuller was drafted by the Bulls in the third round of the 2010 OHL Priority Selection.

“At first it was a pretty hard just getting use to the amount we are on the ice. It’s just a little faster, but I feel like I’ve gotten use to it now,” says Altshuller of the adjustment to the OHL. “Tracking the puck back-and-forth, being able to concentrate on every save. The only way to be able to (get better) is to just play as much as you can and work as hard as you can and eventually it will come.”

Altshuller spent last year in the Central Canada Hockey League as a member of the Nepean Raiders and had an impressive rookie season. In a league where it’s rare to see goaltenders fresh out of minor midget AAA, he put up impressive numbers. In 33 games he was 19-13-10 with a GAA of 3.22 and a save percentage of .906.
In the playoffs last spring Nepean pushed the Brockville Braves to seven games in the opening round of the CCHL playoffs. The third seeded Braves were supposed to make quick work of the sixth seeded Raiders. Altshuller, (still 16 at the time) played well and his team push the series to seven-games. He put up a .911 save percentage with a 3.73 GAA.

His most impressive moment as a Raider might have come two-years-ago when he was called-up as a minor midget to face the Pembroke Lumberkings (eventual league champions). Nepean lost the game 2-1 but Altshuller stopped 45 of 46 shots thrown his way.

Last season, Altshuller garnered a lot of attention in the hockey world when he won gold as a member of Team Ontario at the World Under-17 Championships in Winnipeg. He was one of only two players not playing in the OHL at the time to be named to the team. The other was Robert Polesello of Vaughan in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

He followed up that international performance this past summer with another stellar showing at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Under-18 Tournament, where he was once again Canada’s number one goalie on a gold medal winning team. The experiences helped Altshuller prepare for making the leap from the CCHL to Major Junior.

 “I think it’s helped a lot. It has the same professionalism you need to play in the OHL. Get use to the fact you need to come on time and always have to be ready to go every game,” says the 17-year-old of his experiences representing his country. “It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you put that jersey and you think of all the other great hockey players who have put on that jersey. Just to be able to represent your country in anyway is amazing, especially to be able to represent your country playing hockey.” 

If Altshuller has a strong finish to this, he will have a chance to have his name called at this summer’s National Hockey League entry draft. He is listed by the NHL central scouting bureau as a goaltender to watch for the upcoming draft.  

“I try not to really think about those things, whether they are positive or negative. I honestly couldn’t remember right now where I was on that list. I try and not think about and just focus on playing hockey,” says the Generals rookie netminder.

For the time being Altshuller’s Generals are battling for a playoff spot in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. If he can play well and help Oshawa lock down a playoff spot in the second half it will go a long way to helping his draft stock.

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