Thompson returning to form in encore with Henderson

American Hockey League

📝 by Patrick Williams

Henderson Silver Knights goaltender Logan Thompson and encores go together.

The 24-year-old goaltender earned his first National Hockey League game last March. Now his play in the American Hockey League once again continues to make a compelling case to Vegas Golden Knights management for more NHL time.

“Our team is built from him out,” veteran Silver Knights defenseman Derrick Pouliot said of Thompson.

Said Henderson forward Ben Thomson, “We’ve got a new team, a lot of injuries, and guys who are getting familiar with the systems and getting back in the swing of things, so we’re pretty lucky we have a guy like [Thompson] to be our big backbone there.”

Golden Knights management knows that as well, even with the quite capable Robin Lehner-Laurent Brossoit tandem in net at the NHL level. General manager Kelly McCrimmon and his staff have Thompson excelling just off the Vegas Strip at Orleans Arena with the Silver Knights.

McCrimmon already knew plenty about Thompson’s game from their time together for parts of four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, including a 2015 championship. Then after one season at Brock University in Ontario, the undrafted Thompson moved on to the pro game. He put in parts of two more seasons, mostly in the ECHL, finding his footing in the New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals organizations.

McCrimmon and the Golden Knights took it from there, scooping up Thompson with a two-year entry-level contract in July 2020. After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed play for both the AHL and the NHL, Thompson headed to the Henderson for the truncated 2020-21 AHL season.

From there, Thompson produced a 16-6-1 record in 23 regular-season games in the Silver Knights’ inaugural season. He finished with a 1.96 goals-against average along with a .943 save percentage and captured the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Award as the AHL’s top goaltender while earning spots on the AHL All-Rookie Team and Pacific Division All-Star Team.

For an encore, Thompson took that play into the Pacific Division playoffs, first carrying the Silver Knights past the pesky San Jose Barracuda in a pair of wins before a hard-fought loss in the best-of-three finals with the powerful Bakersfield Condors.

And for another encore, Thompson is back with the Silver Knights for a second season. He immediately got down to work in a two-game season-opening home set with the Colorado Eagles and made 47 saves in a 5-4 shootout win and 42 more – 18 of them in the third period – in a 6-3 victory.

“It’s nice to get back into the swing of things,” Thompson said after the second win in something of an understatement.

Then Thompson took his show international the following weekend with the Abbotsford Canucks hosting Henderson for their first-ever home game. He helped the Silver Knights earn an overtime point after being outshot 36-24 at Abbotsford Centre.

“You’ve just to keep building off it and getting better every day,” Thompson said of his development process.

“Our strength is obviously our back end and our goaltending,” Silver Knights assistant coach Joel Ward said after the Abbotsford decision. “Logan has been there from last year continuing on to this year, so we know what we’re getting from him. He is our go-to guy.

“I thought he’s played extremely well this season again following up from the great year he had. It’s just a collective group where we know we have a lot of confidence in our back end.”

Pouliot spent last season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and missed Thompson’s excellent work. Now he has an up-close look.

“When he plays like that behind us,” Pouliot said after the overtime loss at Abbotsford, “it’s really good to see. I mean, he made some saves, and it really kept the game close for us. It’s really good to see him playing like that.”

Now the Silver Knights are back home and awaiting this weekend’s two-game return visit from the Condors, who have retained many of their top players from that playoff battle this past spring.

“If he plays like that, Pouliot said, “and we can hold down a couple more grade-A chances, we’re going to have some success.”

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