Even After Highlight Reel Save, Ingram Pragmatic About His Development

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Connor Ingram isn’t letting one play get to his head.

The Syracuse Crunch goalie made a highlight reel save that ended up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 in a 3-1 win in Charlotte Sunday. Even after a spectacular diving stop with his stick, Ingram focused more on making the next save.

Ingram remains pragmatic about the play and hockey in general as he works his way toward the NHL.

“It went right to left, I slid in and missed my post on the left side and it was a wide open net. You’ve got to do whatever you can to get there, and luckily he just shot it right into my stick,” Ingram said. “I’m not going to take credit for it. It’s a pretty fluky thing that’ll happen.”

Ingram has posted a 13-9-2-2 record in 26 games with Syracuse during his rookie season. The 20-year-old has two shutouts, a .903 save percentage and 2.61 goals against average.

Still, Ingram knows goalie development can be slow and there’s plenty of work to be done to make the next step.

“I’m a long ways away still. It’s hard to say that, but it’s the truth,” Ingram said. “The dream of being an everyday NHLer is a long ways away for me. As long as I can keep working to get better now, hopefully the dream comes true later.”

Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx believes Ingram has made strides throughout the season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning trading for veteran Eddie Pasquale has helped give Ingram a break when most players could have a dip in their first pro season.

“Obviously, the pressure is on the goalies. You expect your goalies to give you a chance to win and he did that,” Groulx said. “I think he needed that pause a little bit. A week to get back on the ice, practice hard and spend some time with your goalie coach instead of being in the game mode every day. I think he needed that time of practice and preparation and that time of getting back to the structure in net. He was our best player in Charlotte. He was the difference for us.”

Ingram has had a chance to learn from a few veteran goalies this season in Syracuse. He began the season splitting time with Michael Leighton, backed up Louis Domingue and is now sharing the net with Pasquale.

“It’s been a little bit of a different year with having so many different guys to play with,” Ingram said. “It’s been good to see the different ways guys prepare and the different ways of doing it. Everyone that’s been here has been successful, so it’s good to know that there’s not just one way of doing things.”

The Lightning’s third round draft pick in 2016, Ingram has taken an unusual route to the pro game. The Imperial, Saskatchewan native went undrafted in the Western Hockey League, but worked his way up to a starting position for the Kamloops Blazers and won silver with Team Canada in the 2016-17 World Junior Championships.

“I’ve had to work for all the opportunities I’ve had in my career,” Ingram said. “I think throughout my life I’ve forced peoples’ hands to give me an opportunity. That’s what I’ll try to do, but at the end of the day, you have to get there first. We can do everything we can, and hopefully it works out for us.”

That trip to the World Junior Championship included another appearance for Ingram on ESPN. He took tumble heading to the bench on a delayed penalty and slid from one blue line to the other.

After his big save Sunday, Ingram can laugh it off.

“I was telling my family I think the last time I was on ESPN I think I was the worst play of the day,” Ingram said. “It’s good to be on the other end of it for once.”

Pictured: Crunch goalie Connor Ingram makes a save against the Marlies at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Jan. 20.