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Former Coquitlam Express goalie catching the eye of NHL teams

Clay Stevenson's .925 save percentage at Dartmouth College is among the top ten of all NCAA Div. 1 goalies
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Coquitlam Express goalie Clay Stevenson makes a save on Prince George Spruce Kings forward Andrew Seaman. Stevenson is one of the top goalies in the NCAA and is drawing. some interest from NHL teams looking to sign college free agents according to hockey insider Elliotte Friedman.

A former goaltender for the Coquitlam Express is drawing attention from NHL teams looking to sign undrafted free agents playing in college programs.

According to Sportsnet commentator Elliotte Friedman, Clay Stevenson will have plenty of suitors for his services when his NCAA regular season at Dartmouth College ends on Saturday (Feb. 26).

In his 32 Thoughts column posted Thursday (Feb. 24), Friedman called Stevenson a "free agent to watch," adding NHL teams are "making their pitches" to the 23-year-old.

Stevenson, who grew up in Alberta and B.C. after his parents split up when he was a toddler, played three seasons with the Express, leading the team to the top of the BC Hockey League’s (BCHL) regular season in 2019-20.

He won 30 of the 35 games he played, had a miserly 1.77 goals against average and was named the league’s top goalie.

But his success was tinged by tragedy, after his mother died by suicide during the preseason.

Stevenson told the Tri-City News the sacrifices she’d made bringing him up as a single mom, including following him to 100 Mile House where he played Junior 'B' for the Wranglers, drove him to be his best.

"Everything she did, she wanted to do to the best of her capabilities," he said. "That rubbed off on me."

But Stevenson’s push to take the Express all the way to a Fred Page Cup championship and on to a Junior 'A' national title was cut short by an obscure NCAA rule that essentially aged him out of the BCHL on his 21st birthday on March 3, 2020, so he could retain his full academic eligibility.

Stevenson stayed to mentor the team as the Express swept the Langley Rivermen in the first round of the playoffs. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and abruptly ended the season.

The viral scourge also cost Stevenson his first year at Dartmouth, as COVID-19 public health restrictions shut down all sports.

This season, Stevenson has five wins, 10 losses and two ties in 18 games for the struggling Big Green that has won only six times heading into the final weekend of its East Coast Athletic Conference regular season.

But his .925 save percentage is 10th of all Div. I goalies.

Some current NHL players who were signed as free agents coming out of collage programs include Washington Capitals defenceman Justin Schultz, New Jersey Devils winger Jimmy Vesey and Mike Reilly of the Boston Bruins.