Growing up in Prince George, Michael Garteig watched the Vancouver Canucks and paid particular attention to goalie Dan Cloutier.
The former Powell River King and Penticton Vee net minder got to know Cloutier at the Canucks Development Camp in early July as they worked together.
"It was cool. A neat experience," said Garteig. "Skating around and talking to Dan Cloutier, bouncing ideas off each other. We connected pretty well. It was fun to work with a different guy."
Garteig, a 2012 RBC Cup winner with the Vees, faced shooters who were selected in the first and second round of the NHL draft.
"The college guys are good," said Garteig, who posted a 24-10-6 record with a .910 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average with the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the NCAA last season. "You're getting to work with the goalie coach. Get to kind of learn some new things. It was fun. More importantly, it kind of just gave me some confidence. Keeps me motivated and driven to the following year."
Garteig, the BCHL goalie of the year in 2011 and 2012, also enjoyed meeting people and developing friendships with rivals, including Union goalie Daniel Champini.
"I played against him all year. It was funny, we joked about playing each other, poked fun at each other," said Garteig. "He ended up winning the national championship so I didn't have much to say."
Garteig also shared the crease with Canucks second round pick,Thatcher Demko.
"He's a good kid, a really nice guy," said Garteig. "He's a really good goalie as well. He has a good chance of eventually playing in the NHL."
The Canucks told Garteig they liked how he performed and encouraged him to play well this season and stay in touch.
"My main focus is just to get better, make sure that I am improving my game," he said. "Win games for Quinnipiac. Team success brings individual success."
Garteig received the camp invite about a month or two into last season as a Canucks scout watched him play. It was near Christmas that he spoke with his advisor and coaches about going to the camp.
"Since Vancouver is in my backyard … I figured it was probably the best bet," said Garteig.
Garteig had a strong start to the season being named ECAC Hockey Goalie of the Month for October and November. It became an an up and down year for Garteig, but he also said it was technically his rookie season since he only played in five games the year before.
"My year was a little inconsistent at times," said Garteig, who caught up with and spent time with former teammate Troy Stecher, also at the camp. "That's just being young and not having the experience of playing the year before."
He led the NCAA in games played, starting all 40, which he said was an accomplishment of its own.