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'He's our MVP': Calgary Canucks goaltender Julian Molinaro continues to thrive in the postseason

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Calgary Canucks goaltender Julian Molinaro knows what it takes to get to the Centennial Cup.

He did it last year with the Ontario Junior Hockey League's Collingwood Blues. It’s a big reason why the Canucks acquired him in the offseason and Molinaro says he thinks the Canucks have the team to get there this year.

“We have a great group,” said the 20-year-old.

“Definitely really good coaches who have put in a good system and something just feels right about our group. It feels like we’re destined for something so just want to keep going and continue the wave we’re on.”

Big-time playoff performer

Molinaro has come as advertised. He’s a goaltender who makes a difference, especially at playoff time.

He’s played in all 13 of the Canucks playoff games and has a 10-3 record with a 2.50 goals-against average.

Head coach Brad Moran says it’s a big reason why his team is just two wins away from winning the AJHL Championship.

“He’s our MVP,” said Moran.

“The top goalie in the league and he’s shown that. It’s his demeanour I think. His approach every day and that rubs off on the guys. They’re confident that when we make a mistake he’s there for us and if he makes a mistake we’re there for him. I think that’s the feeling and the experience that he can bring at this stage of the season is the main reason we brought him here.”

Changed his ways

Molinaro is counted on for his leadership but says he’s changed a lot this season.

He says in the past he had a lot of superstitions but he’s cut down on those in a big way.

“I have a really good mental coach, Dr. Alicia Naser, and when I first got going with her we went down through everything I do before a game and it was like three pages of superstitions,” said Molinaro.

“I’ve changed my ways and cut it down. I’ve started becoming a lot looser before games. I used to not talk to anyone on game days, kind of the Billy Smith (former New York Islanders goalie) routine but now I’m a lot looser I’d say and a lot less weird,” he laughed.

“Yeah, I think it’s better for my teammates because they can actually talk to me now on game days instead of just being intimidated. It just makes it easier around the room and I can joke a little bit before games and not be worried about the outcome on the ice because I’m ready to go.”

In the driver's seat

The Canucks are up two games to none in the series after two impressive wins to start the series in Whitecourt.

Molinaro says he and his teammates won’t be getting too far ahead of themselves.

“I’d say we’re confident because we’ve won two but we don’t change the way we start tonight,” he said.

“We’re going to play like we’re down two and continue to have that desperation and that fire inside of us and just keep going and not worry about the score of the series. Just take it one game at a time like every other game this series.”

Game three is on Tuesday night at the Ken Bracko Arena at Max Bell. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. Game four is Wednesday night, also at the Ken Bracko arena.

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