The Tampa Bay Lightning used their third-round pick in the 2016 draft to select goaltender Connor Ingram of the Western Hockey League's Kamloops Blazers.
The Imperial, Saskatchewan native stands 6-foot-1 and backstopped Kamloops to a playoff appearance in 2015-16.
Ingram has appeared in 17 of the Blazers' last 20 games. The consistent responsibility of handling the crease has helped the young goaltender gain some confidence moving forward.
"I think experience is a big part of it," Ingram said. "I got in early and ended up playing a lot of games. It's really good for me. I think the more you play, the easier it's going to get."
The game has definitely gotten easier for Ingram as he currently leads all WHL goaltenders with a .931 save percentage. Ingram's goals against average has dropped from 2.96 in his first season to 2.17 this year despite playing in multiple back-to-back contests.
"I think it's gotten easier," said Ingram when asked about his preparation for games on consecutive nights. "It was harder when I first started. We've got a really good goalie coach here who's helped me out. I think he's driven the little things and the little habits for me that are slowly just making me better and better."
Ingram's coaches with Kamloops are not the only ones taking notice of his consistent progression in net. The young goaltender is a serious candidate to compete with Team Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario in Canada.
"Tampa Bay's 19-year-old prospect Connor Ingram of Kamloops and Philadelphia's 18-year-old prospect Carter Hart of Everett have been the best Canadian goalies in junior hockey this season. And it really hasn't been close either," Bob McKenzie of TSN said when discussing Team Canada's key pieces for the World Junior Championship. "Barring unforeseen developments, they are expected to be Team Canada's tandem."
Ingram will hope to become a part of some elite company to have worn the Team Canada jersey at the World Junior Championship, including Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
At Prospect Camp a few months ago, Ingram was able to compete with some of the Lightning's top prospects from all different leagues around the world. The experience gained from attending the camp was something that Ingram learned from and took back to Kamloops.
"It helped a lot," Ingram said. "Obviously it's really good hockey and it's an exciting time. I think it builds confidence too."
Coming to Tampa also presented Ingram with the opportunity to meet current Lightning goaltenders Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
"Those guys are pros and they know what they're doing," Ingram said. "It's a long road and those guys have figured it out. They're good people to look up to."
As the WHL season rolls on, Ingram continues to strive to be the backstop the Blazers need to succeed. With some of the top goaltending numbers in the WHL, he's doing a fantastic job thus far.
"I think reliability and consistency are big for me," Ingram said. "When your team knows that you're going to give them a chance to win every night I think it's comforting for them and it's comforting for you as well."