The Los Angeles Kings got a quality goaltending prospect — and a public relations boost — with the recent signing of Jacob Ingham.
Ingham’s work off the ice is getting plenty of media play, and it never hurts for an organization’s image to bring in athletes who have a legitimate concern for their fellow human beings and who act on that impulse.
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Jake Saves is an organization that Ingham began with Hockey Gives Blood before the 2018-19 season. And it’s true, Jake does indeed save. Aside from being one of the top goaltenders in the OHL, his on-ice saves were worth $10 — $5 from Ingham himself with $5 matches by his Kitchener Rangers. Along with other donors, the team announced that Ingham’s drive earned more than $26,000 for Canadian Blood Services.
So, what are the Kings getting aside from someone who gives back? Kitchener interim head coach Mike McKenzie summed it up nicely in a Tuesday cellphone interview.
A Good Mix of Athleticism and Size
“A nice blend,” McKenzie said about Ingham, who was picked in the sixth round (175th overall) in 2018. “He’s got the size at (6-foot-4) and he’s super athletic, too. A great combination. And he’s quick.”
Apparently, Ingham’s head is in the right place, something that is not always a given with a 19-year-old.
“He’s a really good kid off the ice and an extremely hard worker on getting better — and that really helped him,” McKenzie said. “He stands out in his mental capacity. When you let in a goal or two early, most goalies can let that snowball into a bad game. He settled in to turn it around and that’s pretty rare for a goalie. And the games he stood out, he was just over-the-top good … times where he kept us in the game and without him we wouldn’t have won.”
Ingham’s .917 save percentage stands out as does his 33-8-5 record. It’s also noteworthy that he faced the most shots (1,636) and made the most saves (1,501) of all OHL netminders.
“The way he carried himself with the blood drive and the phenomenal year he had on the ice is what I’ll always remember about him,” McKenzie said. “It’s pretty rare for a teenage kid to take that much initiative to do something like that for charity.”
One of Kitchener’s Top Performers
A snippet from a November story in the Waterloo Region Record crystallizes what Ingham meant to his squad: “Goalie Jacob Ingham, the one guy who has held firm and given the depleted Rangers a chance to win or snag a point on most nights, is out with an undisclosed injury.” (from ‘Kitchener Rangers dealt another blow as goalie Jacob Ingham sidelined,’ Waterloo Region Record, 11/06/2019)
That injury, a herniated disc, kept Ingham out for nearly a month.
Ingham was one of four goalies picked to the Team OHL roster for the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, but he was unable to play in it. He is also Kitchener’s nominee for the Red Tilson Trophy, which goes to the OHL’s most valuable player, and he won the Ted Scharf Humanitarian Award for the team’s player who contributes the most to the community.
“I don’t think there’s a rush by the Kings or by Jacob to get in (the NHL) right away,” the coach said. “It’s hard to see into the future, but it might be a situation where he doesn’t come on to the scene until he’s 24 or 25. He has the skill, the size, the work ethic. I would be very surprised if he isn’t going to play in the NHL in four or five years.”
The pecking order is a long one. After Kings starter Jonathan Quick, there’s backup Cal Petersen. Matthew Villalta (72nd pick in 2017) and Kevin Poulin (126th overall in 2008) are manning the fort with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, and Cole Kehler (undrafted, Fort Wayne Komets in the ECHL) is also in the system. Two others — Lukas Parik (87th overall in 2019, Spokane Chiefs in the WHL) and David Hrenak (144th overall in 2018, St. Cloud State) — are unsigned.
According to McKenzie, Ingham — who turns 20 on June 10 — will have plenty of time to develop. He’ll be AHL-eligible next season, but could also choose to go back to Kitchener for an overage season.
“… Making controlled saves, it’s not always the flashiest but gets the job done,” Ingham said about his game to LA Kings Insider after being drafted in 2018. “I bring a calming influence but I’ve got a little bit of flair sometimes too so maybe that might come out.”
Before coming to Kitchener, Ingham played three seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads, so he’s got lots of high-level junior games under his belt. But, as with any prospect, there is plenty of work to do for him to move up. In its Top 10 goalie list from 2018, Dobber Prospects points out Ingham’s weaknesses.
Ingham entered the (2018-19) season as one of the top draft prospects among goalies and has found a way to maintain his standing despite showing critical technical flaws in his net awareness and glove-hand positioning. The good news is that Ingham’s coverage of the lower-half of the net is outstanding, and his flexibility and range of motion allow him to stop second and third chances, specifically if there’s a radical directional change. The width of his butterfly flare looks appealing, and Ingham’s feet appear to be planted and set when squaring himself to the shooter. Unfortunately, his glove hand is not quick enough for it to be in position as low as he keeps it, especially when couched low and deep inside the crease.
Dobber Prospects report on Ingham
Now that he’s a professional, Ingham can concentrate on fixing any flaws, and he’s got the Kings coaching staff and guys like Quick and Petersen to work with.