Joel Vienneau could be the Gophers' goalie of the future.
He made a recruiting visit this past weekend when the Gophers tied North Dakota 3-3 and beat them 5-1 and came away with his mind almost made up on a college.
Vienneau is 6-3, 185 and has great numbers this season. He is 21-3 and also has two shootout losses for Kingston. He has a 2.09 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage and just celebrated a birthday. He turned 18 on Monday.
"He was very happy about [the visit]," said Dennis Vienneau, Joel's father. "He was very impressed."
With what exactly? "The rink, the people, everything," Dennis Vienneau said by phone from his home in Hearst, Ontario, which is 13 hours from Kingston.
His son has made visits to St. Lawrence and UMass and was supposed to go to Lake Superiod State.
"I'm pretty sure it's Minnesota," Dennis Vienneau said. "It's a nice school to go to and I'm 95 to 99 percent sure he is going there."
Joel Vienneau has played in the OJHL for two seasons. He started playing hockey at age 5 and was in the nets the next year.
"He's playing pretty good this year," Dennis Vienneau said, "because he has a good team, a good goalie coach. He's learning and working hard."
He expects his son to sign in April, when the spring signing period begins, and be on a college team for the 2010-11 season.
The Gophers have seen him play for Kingston and in the CJHL Prospects Game, actually a two-game, all-star event held last Dec. 7 and 9 in Winkler, Manitoba.
The top 40 NHL prospects in Canada's junior leagues played in that series. Joel Vienneau was named the Goalie of the Tournament after his East team, made up of player from five eastern leagues in Canada, beat the West team 2-0 in the second game. He had 34 saves in the victory.
The Gophers have three goalies now, junior Alex Kangas and sophomore Kent Patterson and practice goalie Jake Kremer. Obviously, coach Don Lucia must expect either Kangas or Patterson to be gone by next season if he is telling Joel Vienneau he has a roster spot for him.