Hamilton's goaltender controversy: Is it Tokarski or Mayer?

iSPORT

An in-depth look at both goaltender's starts to the 2013-2014 AHL season and why Hamilton is facing a controversy in the crease.

Ten games into the Bulldogs' 2013-2014 season, and it appears that there is a goaltender controversy brewing in Hamilton.

Despite a modest start to the season with an overall 5-2-0-3 record, head coach Sylvain Lefebvre's decision making has come into question by fans, especially when it comes to which one of his goaltenders start in the crease.

This debate sparked over the summer, when the Montreal Canadiens' management rewarded both Robert Mayer and Dustin Tokarski with contract extensions.

Between the two goalies though, the Canadiens signed Mayer first and also gave him a lengthier two-year contract that will run through the 2014-2015 season. Meanwhile, Tokarski signed only a one-year deal.

In the eyes of many, these contract negotiations proved that it was Mayer who was considered more of a priority for Montreal, and that Tokarski was getting the short end of the stick.

There is no question that both goaltenders possess a skill set that is worth investing in, as well as the potential to be the best tandem in the AHL.

However, with an AHL Calder Cup, a World Junior gold medal, and an Ed Chynoweth Cup under his belt, Dustin Tokarski is indeed the more established between the two. That said, it has come as a surprise to many that in the Bulldogs' opening ten games, both Tokarski and Mayer have split starts at five games apiece.

In Tokarski's five starts, he has an impressive 4-0-0-1 record, with a 2.14 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with 11 goals against.

Meanwhile, Mayer sits at a 1-2-0-2 record, with a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with 12 goals against.

Both goaltenders recently celebrated their 24th birthdays, and when each of their games are broken down, there are quite a few similarities.

Here are the scouting reports on each goaltender, courtesy of The Hockey News.

Dustin Tokarski:

Screen_shot_2013-11-06_at_12

Robert Mayer:

Screen_shot_2013-11-06_at_12

As you can see after reviewing the scouting reports, both Tokarski's and Mayer's strengths lie in their positioning and control in the crease. Neither goaltenders are as well known for their durability in comparison to their calmness in the blue paint.

It's going to take either one of these netminders to consistently outperform their counterpart in order to gain Lefebvre's trust to become the sole go-to goalie.

Barring any injuries to Montreal's tandem of Carey Price or Peter Budaj, it is a stretch at this point that either Tokarski or Mayer will get any consideration for a call up based on Budaj's outstanding play as Price's backup this season.

There is no denying the solid crop of goaltenders in Montreal's organization, especially with 18-year-old Zach Fucale also garnering plenty of attention for the future with his play with the Halifax Mooseheads.

At this point, Lefebvre's decision to split the workload between both of his Bulldogs goaltenders has kept them well-rested and Hamilton has opened their season with a competent start.

The biggest question moving forward though, is which goaltender will outplay the other and take over the reigns as the Hamilton Bulldogs' solidified starting goaltender?

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