STRONG SHOWING - Thomas Heemskerk

STRONG SHOWING - Thomas Heemskerk

Thomas Heemskerk’s first year with Generals proves successful

The 25-year-old goaltender has been putting up some stellar numbers in his first year with the Bentley Generals

  • Dec. 17, 2015 10:00 a.m.

It has been a bit of a transitional year for Thomas Heemskerk.

The 25-year-old goaltender has been putting up some stellar numbers in his first year with the Bentley Generals, helping the team to a 9-1-1 record while sharing the crease with Dustin Butler.

“It’s been good. We’ve had a lot of team success and, you know, it’s been a bit of a transition for myself taking a year off and getting back into things,” Heemskerk said.

Before this season, the Chilliwack, B.C. native played three years of pro hockey, spending most of his time in the San Jose Sharks’ farm system. He took a year off last season to recover from an injury.

“Now I find myself here trying to kind of stay with it and keep playing the sport that I kind of love. I’m just trying to be a part of something and win a championship,” Heemskerk said of why he came out to Alberta in order to play senior men’s AAA hockey.

“It’s been fun. It’s neat to kind of see all the small towns and how it operates. Just coming from Vancouver or B.C., there’s really no senior hockey, so it was all new to me.”

Heemskerk said that he had researched and asked around to find an elite level of hockey that he could participate in this season.

“It’s cool how they’re able to run a league in these smaller towns of great hockey throughout Alberta.”

Heemskerk has been outstanding for the first-place Generals, posting a .910 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.58 in seven games this season.

“It’s always going to be something you look at, your stats, and it’s something you take personal pride in or you want to be number one and put up the best numbers you can. I think that’s what pushes everyone but in the end you want to win the game and at the end of the season you want to win the championship.”

Heemskerk played four seasons in the Western Hockey League from 2006-2011 with the Kootenay Ice, Everett Silvertips and Moose Jaw Warriors. In 2009, the then 19-year-old Heemskirk posted the best save percentage in the WHL as a starter for the Silvertips.

That same season he signed an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks and in 2011 he joined the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate.

“I played up and down with Worcester and Stockton and then San Francisco the next year,” he explained.

Heemskerk split his time in the pro leagues between starting for the Stockton Thunder of the East Coast Hockey League and filling a backup role for the Sharks in the AHL. He had his most successful pro season in 2012 after the Thunder relocated to San Francisco and became the San Francisco Bulls.

Although he only had a 14-17-3 record in 38 games with the Bulls that year, Heemskerk made up for it by posting a .906 save percentage and helping the team make the playoffs.

”It’s something I will always look back on and I enjoyed it very much but not everyone makes it to the NHL and at some point you’ve kind of got to start to look at the bigger picture and find other things that you enjoy in life, too,” he said when asked if he misses the pro hockey lifestyle.

Now that he’s playing in Bentley, Heemskerk said the level of play isn’t much different.

“It’s a bit different than California for sure,” he laughed, adding that most of the players are very high-calibre.

“There’s a lot of players in the league that could easily still be playing pro if they chose, so the hard thing is not being on the ice as much as before.”

According to Heemskerk, the Chinook Hockey League’s schedule is rather lax compared to those in the ECHL or AHL. Teams only practice once and play one or two games per week, “So when you have the ice time you’ve really gotta make it count,” he said.

Speaking of ice time, Heemskerk said that sharing the starting role with Dustin Butler hasn’t been as much of an adjustment as one would think.

“I think all goalies can kind of agree, it never really goes away. Even in the NHL or the AHL there’s always going to be different situations or new goalies or new tandems. It’s just the way it kind of is. You can’t really find a situation where you’re by yourself, it just doesn’t happen. Just trying to kind of make do with what you have. If that’s playing half a season then you try to make the most of it.”

zcormier@lacombeexpress.com

 

Lacombe Generals

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Photo Courtesy: Echo Lacombe Association logo.
Lacombe City Council supports Echo Lacombe with location for pilot program

Echo Lacombe Association will run a pilot propgram on food rescue until November, 1, 2021

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

File Photo
Blackfalds RCMP seeking suspects in traffic collision

RCMP are asking the public for help identifing two suspects wanted for multiple offences

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read