Hopes are high for the Soo Greyhounds to carry on from a 2013-2014 term that yielded 95 regular-season points and two rounds of playoffs that ended with an exit.
Afterall, potential overages not included, the Greyhounds will return considerable veteran talent for the 2014-2015 Ontario Hockey League season led by scoring leaders Sergey Tolchinsky, Jared McCann, Michael Bunting, Blake Speers and David Miller — and the 109 goals that they combined for in 2013-2014.
Factor in a time-tested set of defenders that may or may not include bluechip blueliner Darnell Nurse and the Sheldon Keefe-coached Hounds are in prime-time OHL company for 2014-2015 even with the graduation of workhorse goalie Matt Murray.
Which brings us to Brandon Halverson, who is being counted on by the Hounds to take over from Murray as the starter.
Halverson, a 6-foot-4, 180 pound, 1996 birth-year goalie from the northern Michigan town of Traverse City, was a factor in 19 of the Hounds 68 regular-season games in 2013-2014 with a record of 12-6-1, goals-against-average of 2.96 and save percentage of .904.
Can Halverson progress from being a solid backup in 2013-2014 to a dependable starter in 2014-2015?
One would think that the New York Rangers certainly think so.
The Rangers used the second-last pick of the second round of the 2014 National Hockey League draft to select Halverson.
Good goalies — ones who can consistently keep their team in games — are not easy to find, regardless of the level of play.
Consistency is what separates the average goalies from the good ones.
With a mere 19 OHL decisions on his resume, it is yet-to-be-determined if Halverson has what it takes to be a 50-game starter and a 30-game winner — which is what Murray averaged over his final two seasons as a Greyhound.
PHOTO: Brandon Halverson is being counted on to be the Soo Greyhounds starting goalie this 2014-2015 season.