When the Lacombe Generals asked Kraymer Barnstable if he would like to join their team for the coming Chinook Hockey League season, it wasn’t exactly a difficult decision for the former Red Deer College Kings’ goalie to make.
“Going into this post season, I was undecided on whether I was going to play another year. I really wanted to but I didn’t want to try and force what was going to happen,” recalled the 26-year-old backstopper, adding he made the decision with his wife stating the only way he would play would be if one of the teams in the area showed interest in having him on board.
“Luckily the Generals contacted me and I was extremely excited that they did and it’s been a great start so far.”
Barnstable and former University of Calgary Dinos’ netminder Jacob Deserres will make up the tandem in net for the Generals this season and, due to an ankle injury that Deserres suffered during the Chinook League Pre-season Classic, Barnstable was the opening night starter for the Gens when they hit the ice in Rosetown last weekend.
“Obviously, you don’t want to see the guys go down with injuries. That’s the last thing that you want to see. But it’s exciting that I’ll probably get to start in the first game unless one of the guys comes back from injury,” Barnstable said, adding he’s excited to get back on the ice after a long offseason.
“It’s exciting to play, that’s for sure. As a goalie you always want to be the guy, you always want to be playing, so I’m looking forward to that for sure.”
Barnstable, who was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan but now considers Red Deer his hometown, comes to the Generals after spending the past three seasons with the Red Deer College Kings of the ACAC.
“It’s been an interesting transition with the fact that it’s not quite the rigorous schedule, but at the same time the guys are in really good shape and it’s really good hockey. The skill level, I think, is a little bit higher with the age group and the strength of the guys,” he said, adding so far he thinks it has been a smooth transition for him.
“It’s definitely different, but I think it’s been a good jump for me.”
Joining Lacombe’s senior men’s AAA hockey team is the latest step in a long and varied hockey career for the RDC grad.
Barnstable’s hockey career really started to take off after the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft when he was selected by the Vancouver Giants in the ninth round, 169th overall as a 15-year-old.
From there, after spending a couple of seasons playing in the British Columbia Major Midget League, Barnstable made the leap into major junior hockey and spent a season as the backup goaltender for the Giants in 2007.
“I kind of moved my way around the junior ranks and was kind of here and there, so to speak,” he recalled.
Eventually, after a season with the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Barnstable ended up with the Red Deer Rebels.
His time with the local WHL club was, “One of my best hockey experiences that I’ve had to date,” Barnstable said, adding that after a stint at the University of British Columbia didn’t work out and he made the decision to play in the ACAC, and that time with the Rebels played a key role in making Red Deer College his destination of choice.
“It was a decision between going to NAIT or RDC to pick which school, they were both kind of interested in having me play for them. I simply chose RDC on the fact that I loved the City. I loved when I played here.”
In three seasons with the Kings, Barnstable consistently posted save percentages in the low .900 range, which is pretty good for a college goalie. Now he’s looking to help the Generals bring a second straight Allan Cup home, a prospect which he is extremely excited about.
“This team, they not only expect to make it to Allan Cup every year, they expect to win it. And you can already see it in the room with the way the guys talk and the way they play, they just expect to win championships. That’s the only reason we’re still playing at this age. I’ve never been a part of a championship team since my Bantam age group and it’s really exciting to see just the mentality everyone has.”