Former Kittanning goalie Langham hopes to land tryout with Junior team
Kittanning senior goaltender Cameron Langham's celebrated high school hockey career concluded earlier this week with the Wildcats' 4-1 loss to Quaker Valley in the PIHL Class A semifinals.
Now comes a stretch of life — approximately a year, maybe more — when Langham will try to garner enough positive attention in amateur competition to get a Junior hockey tryout, the next step in the process of going professional.
“Whether it's not the greatest (Junior team) or one of the best, I don't care,” Langham said. “I just want to play hockey.”
For the past three seasons, Langham started in net for Kittanning, which reached the Class A semifinals each year. He finished with a career record of 46-11-1, earned seven shutouts and stopped better than 88 percent of the shots he faced.
“We were pretty spoiled to write his name on the scorer's sheet for as long as we did,” said Kittanning coach Jamie King, who ranked Langham as one of Kittanning's top two goaltenders during the past two decades.
“In hockey, (a goalie) can be that eraser that eliminates mistakes. Cam bailed us out a lot this year. … I think that's where he's such a luxury.”
Langham's hopes for career advancement rest in the Pittsburgh Viper Stars, a Class AAA amateur team that includes many of Western Pennsylvania's best players.
As a fairly young high school senior, he'll get another season with the Viper Stars' 18-and-under team.
Tournaments in Buffalo, Detroit and elsewhere around the country allow him to showcase his skills.
What Langham saw during Kittanning games and what he witnessed when in the crease for the Viper Stars was separated by drastic differences in talent level.
“It's definitely a lot harder,” Langham said.
“In high school, you have some kids who, when they shoot the puck, you can probably fall down, stand back up and still react. With the Vipers, you barely have time to react.”
Junior coaches have contacted those in charge of Langham's club to express interest in the Kittanning senior.
They also passed along their critiques.
“The thing they've said was I'm not that consistent,” Langham said. “Some games, I'll have a shutout. Some games, I'll let in like three goals.”
Rebound control is another point of emphasis for Langham, who said he still kicks too many loose pucks back into the middle of the ice rather than out to the sides.
Langham sought input from Jurgen Koster, a 2010 Kittanning graduate who plays for the Northern (N.H.) Cyclones of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League, and 2012 graduate Heinz Koster, who, after a midseason trade, finished his first Junior season with the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League.
Neither gave him any reason to question his pursuit of a professional career.
King also encouraged his goaltender to chase a contract.
“Go play as long as you can; that's what I always tell my players,” King said. “Cam is very good, so I think if he's willing to put in the work, he has the abilities to move on to the next level.”
If no Junior teams show interest, Langham will follow his Plan B and join the Marines. He knows the military isn't big on ice time.
“Basically, next year, if I don't step it up and sign somewhere,” he said, “I'm done with hockey.”