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Gatineau's Mior tasting some of the success of former teammate Carey Price @NHLdotcom

KITCHENER, Ont. - They were two goaltenders united under the Maple Leaf before their paths widely diverged.

Ryan Mior of the Gatineau Olympiques and Carey Price of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens were teammates on Canada's under-18 team four years ago.

Price's career has been a superhighway lately, while Mior just hit pavement this season. But Mior isn't complaining about his lot in life.

Getting passed over in the NHL draft and years of post-season frustration makes playing in this year's Memorial Cup taste sweeter for the 20-year-old from St. John's, N.L.

Mior acknowledges the road he took after the 2004 Junior World Cup doesn't much resemble that of Price, who is now the Habs' starting goaltender at the same age as Mior.

"He kind of took the fast way there and it's great for him," Mior said prior to Friday's Memorial Cup game against the host Kitchener Rangers.

"You look at my path, it's a little bit different. I've been kicking around here for quite a long time, but I'm not disappointed with what I'm doing right now at all."

To be selected to play with Canada's best at 17 usually means hearing your name called at the NHL entry draft the following summer.

After the Junior World Cup, Mior re-joined his club team, the P.E.I. Rocket.

He took over the starting job midway through the season. He and the team struggled, which was a blow to the 17-year-old's confidence.

"I had that under-18 tournament and was ranked pretty high, but it was basically downhill from there with my play and my team's play," Mior said.

Price was chosen fifth overall by the Canadiens in 2005. Mior was not drafted.

Price won a gold medal with Canada's under-20 team in 2006. Mior wasn't invited to try out.

Gatineau head coach and general manager Benoit Groulx was an assistant coach on Mior's under-18 Canadian team.

Groulx acquired him midway through the 2006-07 season, even though Mior had yet to play to the potential he'd shown earlier in his career.

"His confidence was down a bit," Groulx said. "He had an OK second half of the season last year, but this year he came in with a great attitude and was in great shape.

"The chemistry on the team is good and Ryan is the type of person that he's got to feel good to compete hard."

When the Olympiques lost in the first round of playoffs last year, Mior was devastated. He had yet to win a playoff round in his career.

"I was questioning my passion for hockey at that point and wasn't sure if I was going to come back," he said.

Groulx saw that Mior thought everyone, including his coach, blamed him for an early post-season exit.

"People were pointing fingers at him and I really believe he thought I was thinking the same," Groulx recalled. "He didn't want me to tell him 'you're out.'

"I think I reassured him that my confidence was still in him for next year. I believe he's felt all season long the support of his teammates, the support of his coaches.

"He had a great regular season, he was very good in the playoffs and we expect him to be one of our key men defensively in this tournament."

Once Mior cleared the mental hurdle of beating Shawinigan in the first round of the playoffs, the six-foot, 180-pounder was stellar en route to a QMJHL title, Groulx said.

At the team's urging, Mior has seen a sports psychologist and it's made a difference for him on the ice.

"I tried it out mainly because I was forced into it, but it ended up working out in the end for me," he said. "It helps you put things in perspective.

"A game is a game no matter what. It doesn't matter what pressure people put on it, it's still the exact same hockey game. It's still ice, players, nets, pucks and shots and that's how you have to look at it now."

Mior set a QMJHL record this season for career games played with 270 combining both regular season games and playoffs.

He also set a league record for career shutouts with 14 and an Olympiques record for the most shutouts in a season with six.

On the back of Mior's helmet are a Newfoundland flag for his home province and an Italian flag saluting his father's heritage.

Mior says he knew watching Price in the Czech Republic back in 2004 that his counterpart was going to have a successful career in hockey.

Mior is getting some of that success now and who knows where it will lead?

"You are where you are," Mior said. "There's more than one path to get where you are in life whether it's the NHL or whatever else you want to do.

"And here we are with one championship and going for the second."

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