Kindersley Klippers netminder Justen Close is enjoying his best season at the junior A level. He's posting the best numbers of his junior career, he was one of four Klippers who represented the team at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase last month, and he has contributed to Kindersley's spectacular campaign.
All his hard work and dedication to the game this season has now earned him an opportunity South of the border.
The Klippers announced late yesterday morning that the 20-year-old from Kindersley has committed to the University of Minnesota once he has completed his last year of junior. As stated in the press release from the club, Close will have the opportunity to be a part of a historic NCAA Division 1 hockey program with the Golden Gophers that has helped produce professional talent throughout the years.
"I'm very excited to be joining a program of their standing. Lots of history there and it's a great opportunity for me," said Close. "I know my family's very excited and I'm definitely looking forward to it. But, we have some more work to take care of [in the league] first, so I'm trying to stay focused on that."
Close Commits to Minnesota Golden Gophers. https://t.co/aJUiRBmLLC— Iron Horse Kindersley Klippers (@KlippersHockey) February 19, 2019
A few other schools were also interested in acquiring the young goaltenders signature, which translated to him spending a number of hours trying to decide what is best for his future in hockey. Once he had spoken to all interested parties in play, he said he laid out all his options on the table and it became a simple decision.
"We're definitely all really excited."
The news broke out a few days after the league announced he was one of three nominees for the SJHL's Top Goalie, an award he split with Nipawin Hawks goaltender Declan Hobbs last season. The other goaltenders receiving nominations for this year's award are Hobbs and Melville's Colby Entz.
Close has posted 22 wins in 36 games this season with a 2.14 goals against average and a 0.929 save percentage. He leads all SJHL goaltenders in wins while him and his teammates have allowed the second-fewest goals in the SJHL this season while maintaining the third-best goal differential amongst all other teams.