Mets set in net

Duncan Nichols-Delay, left, and Joshua Smith, right, will form the goaltending tandem for the Fort Erie Meteors this season. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ

The Fort Erie Meteors went across Canada to fill their goaltending needs.

Duncan Nichols-Delay, a 20-year-old Calgary native, and Joshua Smith, an 18-year-old from Prince Edward Island, will don the pads for the Meteors and head coach/general manager Nik Passero couldn’t be more confident in his new duo.

“They’re both good kids, they work hard and they will battle it out,” Passero said.

The Meteors have been blessed with solid goaltending recently and Passero figures Nichols-Delay and Smith will carry on that trend.

“We’ve had good goaltending for the last five years and it keeps us competitive but now we’ve brought in a team to be more than competitive,” he said. “We think we have the guys in there to do some damage.

“Goaltending is huge. No one is going to win without it.”

Nichols-Delay spent time in Cleveland at the Gilmour Academy where former Meteors goalie coach, Liam Conway, has contacts.

“I got some film on him,” Passero said. “He’s a 20-year-old and I think it’s proven in this league older goaltending works. He’s a two-year junior guy and the league he played in I know lots about so I thought it was a good fit right away.”

Nichols-Delay hooked up with the Meteors about a month ago and quickly fit in.

“It’s my third year of junior and I’ve heard of this league and know it’s a good league,” he said. “I reached out to a couple of coaches and was looking for a team and I called coach Nik and thankfully I was able to come out real quick.”

Nichols-Delay was thankful to get situated for his last season of junior hockey.

“It’s tough. The last couple of years I was signed to a team in the early summer and it was still up in the air coming down to the wire. It was tough not being sure where I was going to be but you have to stick through it,” he said. “Obviously coming in I knew it might not be the right spot but thankfully it turned out. The contacts I talked to before said the coach was a good guy and they put a good word for me so I had a pretty good idea what it was going to be like.”

Smith, a native of Warren Grove, PEI, is thrilled to have a chance to showcase his talent in junior after playing midget AAA.

“Obviously, I want to be good in this league and I want to play university after that,” he said. “The players are a lot better, they’re faster and bigger and hit harder, but I’m doing all right.”

Smith admitted to a bit of culture shock after growing up in a small community about 15 minutes from Charlottetown. 

“It’s hockey, hockey, hockey all the time and Tim Hortons,” he smiled. “My hometown is just a little community, just a couple hundred people.”

He didn’t make the decision to move to Ontario without some serious due diligence.

“A lot of thought went into it. I talked with my parents quite a bit about it. It’s a big step but I was looking forward to this,” Smith said.

So far Smith is enjoying his new home away from home.

“It’s awesome. The rink is close to home. I don’t have to drive half an hour to a game or practice. Just to have everything close, it’s so much easier,” he said. 

Smith landed in Fort Erie thanks to the Meteors reputation. 

“I got a player last year from his area and they heard good things and his goalie coach called me and I watched some film and was extremely impressed,” Passero said. “I didn’t want to be stuck without a goalie early so I sent the film to some people I trust and they said to hop on him as soon as I could.”

The Meteors open the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League 2021/22 season at home Saturday, Sept. 25 versus the St. Catharines Falcons.

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