Pride overflows for Edmonton born-and-raised Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner

Stuart Skinner is living out many a young hockey player’s dream, playing for the hometown team he grew up watching.

“If you told me this five to six years ago, I’d probably tell you you’re crazy,” the 25-year-old goaltender said after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Dallas Stars on Sunday night to advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 18 years.

“Honestly, moments like this… it’s very hard to say,” he said, struggling to find the words to express the joy of the moment.

“It’s really cool — it’s a lot more than cool.”

Skinner was selected in the third round, 78th overall, in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Oilers. Before coming up to the big leagues, he played four seasons in the Western Hockey League with both Lethbridge and Swift Current.

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Prior to that, he attended the hockey academy at Louis St. Laurent Catholic High School and and Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Hockey Academy for junior high.

The Oilers netminder saved 34 out of 35 shots to help his team to a 2-1 victory on home ice Sunday night.


Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers reach Stanley Cup Final'


Edmonton Oilers reach Stanley Cup Final


For those who have coached Skinner and watched him grow, Sunday night’s big win couldn’t make them more proud – but at the same time, they’re not surprised.


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“First time I saw him, he’s 13 – and he was the same size,” said Jamie McCaig, the head goalie coach at Louis St. Laurent. He’s been with the hockey academy ever since it began over a decade ago.

He said Skinner played at the school in Grade 10, until the then-16-year-old headed off to be the netminder for the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.

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“You knew there was something special there for sure. Great kid, good character, works hard. Loves being a goalie, which you can’t say about everybody.

“Obviously it’s paying off for him now.”


Click to play video: 'Hurricanes’ Stuart Skinner embraces veteran role: ‘I love that pressure’'


Hurricanes’ Stuart Skinner embraces veteran role: ‘I love that pressure’


Louis St. Laurent Junior/Senior hockey director Jaret Peel said Skinner was a dedicated student, on and off the ice, and driven to succeed.

“Stuart Skinner is a product of what hard work and ethic and good sportsmanship leads to,” Peel said. “You know how some people have those God given abilities (and) don’t work for it? But he was working for it and it kind of paid off.”

Skinner was just seven years old the last time the Oilers made it to the final round of the playoffs. Like many hockey players, he had his role models.

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“Of course I was watching Rolly, Rolly the goalie was my idol,” Skinner said of Dwayne Roloson, the netminder that also helped lead the Edmonton Oilers to their last Stanley Cup matchup in 2006, which ended in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.


Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers advance to Stanley Cup Final for first time since 2006'


Edmonton Oilers advance to Stanley Cup Final for first time since 2006


Now, Skinner has becoming an idol to a new generation of young hockey players in his hometown and from his old school.

“It’s pretty cool knowing that somebody who played or who went to the same school as me, is at where he’s at right now in his career,” said Grade 7 student Grayson Connors. “If you work the hardest, you’ll get the furthest.”

Parker Sneazwell, a student and goalie with the St. Thomas More hockey academy, said Skinner is also a role model of his.

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“Absolutely, I strive to have a moustache like that and I want to be as good as he is,” the Grade 9 student joked.

“Pretty awesome that he gets to play for his hometown team.”

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