Charles and Devin Williams aren’t brothers, but they do belong to hockey’s goaltending brotherhood and have a lot in common.
Both are African-American Michiganders – Charles from Canton and Devin from Saginaw.
Both were go-to goalies: Charles led tiny Canisius College to its first Atlantic Hockey regular season championship last season and Devin backstopped formidable Erie Otters teams in the Ontario Hockey League that featured a young phenom named Connor McDavid .
Both were skipped over by National Hockey League teams in recent drafts. Now both are enjoying impressive rookie seasons in the ECHL.
He has a 7-3-1 record in 11 games and a 2.15 goals-against average, third-best in the ECHL. He has a .932 save percentage.
Devin, 22, has been hot for the Tulsa Oilers, a St. Louis Blues ECHL affiliate. He has a 4-2-2 record, 2.80 goals-against average, and a .912 save percentage in 11 games.
He was named the CCM/ECHL Goalie of the Month for October after going 4-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage in five games.
Devin signed with Tulsa in September after playing a season of Canadian college hockey at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he posted an 8-4-0 record with a 2.80 goalst-against average and .896 save percentage.
“The game is quicker, but the big difference is how smart the guys are,” he told The Tulsa World of the adjustment from college to the pro game. “The higher you move up, I think, the smarter the guys are…I have been putting in a lot of work in practice to make sure I am ready for the game.”
He enrolled at Acadia after he watched Erie teammates like McDavid, Nick Baptiste, Alex DeBrincat, and Dylan Strome get snatched up in NHL drafts.Teams took a pass on Devin despite his being a top OHL goalie, winning the Dave Pinkney Trophy in 2013-14 for having the league’s lowest goals-against average, being a second-team OHL all-star in 2015-16, and posting 73 wins in 102 games between 2014 and 2016.
While going to college helped keep Devin’s pro dreams alive, switching colleges helped re-ignite Charles’ pro ambitions.Charles had a decent career at NCAA Division I Ferris State University, posting a 22-15 record, 3.00 goals-against average, and a .899 save percentage over three seasons.
There, he compiled a 15-6-4 record in 34 regular season appearances last season and helped lead the Golden Griffins on a 17-game unbeaten string.A 2017 Hobey Baker Award finalist, Charles led all NCAA D-I goalies with a .946 save percentage, tied for second with 6 shutouts, and his 1.83 goals-against average was second-best in the nation .
No wonder that Canisius named Charles its Male Athlete of the Year for 2017.
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