It was an emotional run to the Clark Cup championship for Youngstown Phantoms’ goaltender Jacob Fowler.
Fowler admits that the title win might not have fully hit him just yet. While he waits for those emotions to kick in, accolades keep coming for him, as he was named the Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year Award winner for 2023.
“Obviously, it’s such an honor,” Fowler said. “You look at the names on that award previously and there are some high-caliber goalies and high-caliber people. Just to have my name on the list with those people is super special to me, my family and everyone who helped me get to this point.”
Several current NHL players who previously won the award include Cal Petersen (Los Angeles), Charlie Lindgren (Washington), John Gibson (Anaheim), Jack Campbell (Edmonton), Alex Stalock (Chicago) and Cory Schneider, who played in the NHL for 13 years.
“You want to eventually play in the NHL,” Fowler said. “To see those names and to have my name up there next to it gives me a lot of pride to see that. To be compared to those guys playing in the NHL is super special, but there’s still a long road ahead.”
The recipient of the Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year Award is chosen from the pool of American-born goaltenders who play at the junior hockey level each year. The award is named in honor of the late Dave Peterson, a passionate leader in goaltending development who coached the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team in 1988 and 1992.
“I’ve played in a lot of USA Hockey events in my short career and it’s something where I had lots of pride, to play for and wear that jersey,” Fowler said. “To have my name on that award and to be honored by USA Hockey is something my family and I will never be able to put into words.”
Fowler, a native of Melbourne, Florida, was also named the 2023 USHL Goaltender of the Year. He backstopped Youngstown to the organization’s first Clark Cup championship, going undefeated in the finals to claim the title.
“We were pretty much the underdog all year, and I don’t think anyone counted on us to be in the final and win it in the fashion that we won it,” Fowler said. “It was an unbelievable feeling and something we get to cherish with each other for the rest of our lives.”
Fowler stopped all 22 shots he faced in the deciding game to lift his team to a 1-0 win against the Fargo Force. Fowler said he didn’t think of much throughout the clincher and just tried to keep Fargo from tying the game. When Fowler finished the job, he had a chance to celebrate on the ice with teammates and his parents.
“When I was going around and hugging my teammates, I thought of the ups and downs throughout the entire season,” Fowler said. “To win that championship and know that we stayed the course and trusted each other was an unbelievable feeling. It was bittersweet to know the season was over, but only one team gets to win the last game of the season, and for us to do that and be with each other for a couple days to celebrate was something I’m never going to forget.”
Fowler, who earned All-USHL First Team honors, led all USHL goaltenders in the regular season with a 2.28 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and 27 wins. He five shutouts were also tied for the league lead.
He built on a stellar regular season with an even better showing in the playoffs. Fowler was named Clark Cup Most Outstanding Player and finished the playoffs 8-1, leading all goaltenders in wins, goals-against average (1.36), save percentage (.952) and saves (273).
“Games are going to be hard and there’s going to be ups and downs, but whoever stays the course the longest is going to be most successful [in the playoffs],” Fowler said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt a little bit of pressure, but once the puck dropped, it was just another game. It didn’t hit me until we threw our gloves in the air and got to celebrate.”
Fowler was also a member of the 2022 U.S. Junior Select Team that won the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in December in Cornwall, Ontario. He posted a 1.75 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage through four games with a perfect 4-0 record.
“Anytime you get to be part of something with USA Hockey, it’s super special,” Fowler said. “It was my first time putting on the jersey and wearing the crest with the junior select team, so that was special for my family and me. To win a gold medal for USA Hockey at the international level is something not a lot of people get to do and something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”
The Boston College commit has a busy month ahead, as NHL Central Scouting has Fowler ranked No. 5 among North American goaltenders eligible for the draft. Fowler said he tried not to pay attention to draft talk during the season, but he’s excited to focus on the event in addition to beginning his career at Boston College.
“It’s going to be exciting for my family and me and all of the people who helped me reach this point,” Fowler said. “I’m also definitely looking forward to getting to Boston College and starting a new chapter with a program that’s already historic.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.