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Gibson tops CSS mid-term goaltender ranking

by Mike G. Morreale
Goalie John Gibson is beginning to earn a reputation similar to his predecessor at the United States National Team Developmental Program, Jack Campbell.

Gibson is calm and composed even in the most pressure-packed moments of a game, just as Campbell was and still is for the U.S. on an international level. Campbell then went on to be the first U.S.-born player drafted last June -- taken at No. 11 by the Dallas Stars.

Now, just as Campbell was at this time one season ago, Gibson is the No. 1-rated player at his position on the NHL Central Scouting's mid-term ranking of the best North American goalies, released Monday.

"John has great net coverage and size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), and is very strong," NHL Central Scouting goalie guru Al Jensen told "He's sound technically, moves very well laterally and is controlled. He's calm, not busy."

In 18 games with the Under-18 team this season, Gibson is 7-8-2 with a 3.25 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

In 22 games with the U.S. National Under-17 Team last season, he went 8-12-1 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. He also saw action in two games with the Under-18 team, going 2-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage. The University of Michigan-bound goalie also compiled a 3-1-1 record, 2.87 GAA and .917 save percentage in six international games.

The Pittsburgh native also went 3-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .957 save percentage at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The 17-year-old was listed as the top goalie in the United States Hockey League by Central Scouting when they released their preliminary rankings of draft-eligible prospects in November.

While Gibson and Campbell are poised under pressure, Jensen said he sees different styles between the two.

"Campbell is the more the quick, athletic type and Gibson is the more a controlled, strong positional type," Jensen said. "Both do have good size -- I like how strong Gibson is."

Gibson's goalie partner at the USNTDP, Matt McNeely, is ranked fifth on the list. McNeely, who will attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the fall, is 6-10-0 with a 3.82 GAA and .899 save percentage in 16 games for the Under-18 team.

"He has very quick feet and pads," Jensen said of McNeely. "I see very good athleticism and he's quick laterally. He relies on that quickness and plays determined."

Jensen provided with his thoughts on the other three goaltenders in the top five on Central Scouting's midterm report.

2. Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) -- Gibson is 9-7-5 and leads the league with a 2.09 GAA and .930 save percentage in 21 games this season.

Jensen's view: "Christopher is very strong in his net and has great net presence. He plays big and has good command in his crease. He's very quick and aggressive.

3. Matej Machovsky, Brampton (OHL) -- The native of Opava, Czech Republic, has split time with the Guelph Storm and the Battalion this season. In 10 total games, he's 6-2-1 mark with an impressive 2.54 GAA and .924 save percentage. He became significantly better upon his arrival in Brampton -- in five games with the Battalion, he's 4-0-1 with a 1.35 GAA and .945 save percentage.

Jensen's view: "He has an excellent butterfly style and is tough to beat down low. He presents excellent lateral ability, plays big in his net even in butterfly, and is very controlled in his movements."

4. Liam Liston, Brandon (WHL) -- Liston is 11-13-1 with a 3.56 GAA and .887 save percentage for the Wheat Kings. His numbers might not jump out, but he's playing for a team that has the fifth-fewest goals in league's 12-team Eastern Conference

Jensen's view: "Liam has very good net coverage and plays big in his net. He's strong in his movements and in his crease and is technically sound."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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