WLA website features Charles Claxton
Story by Adam Levi, WLA Contributing Writer
It has been a long, demoralizing few years for the Nanaimo Timberman’s Charles Claxton since he was selected 11th in the 2016 WLA Draft by the Maple Ridge Burrards. Nearly pushed to the brink of throwing in the towel, the lean and lanky goaltender stuck it out and is now relishing the opportunity to finally have a chance to prove himself as an elite goaltender in the league.
As a backup to Frank Scigliano in Maple Ridge and the backup to Davide DiRuscio with the Langley Thunder, Claxton spent nearly all of the last two seasons as his teams’ benchwarmers while he would have preferred starring in games to help his team win.
“It was frustrating to get overlooked in certain situations that maybe you thought you should have a chance or an opportunity,” Claxton said of watching his counterparts step onto the floor instead of him night in and night out.
“I think I just needed a wake-up call,” Claxton added. “From almost quitting over the last two seasons after being drafted over in the mainland and not really feeling comfortable to finally getting a chance to come home and play for a team on the island. Having that comfort level helps me be a little bit better at my game and with my performance.”
Since he has come to the Timberman after an early February trade in which the Thunder received the 21st pick in the 2018 WLA Draft, Claxton has taken full advantage of every moment he’s spent on the floor in net. Even as he shares goaltending duties with Mike DiGirolamo, Claxton is racking up experience and minutes at an exponential rate compared to when he was with the Thunder or Burrards.
Having played just over 100 minutes in his two prior seasons, Claxton has tallied 619 minutes this season with a few more sure to be added in the team’s final three matches. His 619 minutes of action is the second-most in the WLA this year and is one of the few categories in which he is excelling.
Claxton currently sits second, second, and first in games played, goals allowed average, and save percentage respectively. He has participated in 12 contests, surrendered a mere 8.04 goals per game, and boasts an impressive 84.3% save percentage.
“He’s probably played better than anyone expected him too. He’s played amazingly,” Timberman President Christopher Bowman said. “He’s been one of the top two goalies in the league this year I’d say. He’s won us a few games with his play.”
Despite his lack of WLA experience, there was plenty of reason in Bowman’s mind to give Claxton a shot in this Timberman roster.
“It was his junior play and the fact that he was an island kid, “Bowman stated of acquiring the 2015 BCJALL Monty Leahy Memorial Trophy winner (best goaltender). “For me, I’m very conscious about having island kids come here because that travel is always tough. We’ve got a very creative group of kids who never miss a game that come from the mainland, but when I had a chance to grab an island kid, who, when he’s played, he’s been the best in the province, it was a pretty easy decision for us [to bring him to Nanaimo].”
Timberman Head Coach Kaleb Toth had been exchanging starts between Claxton and DiGirolamo through most of the season, but Claxton has emerged as the starter (and finisher) in net in the last three games. In that span, Claxton has played some of his best ball of the year. In those three matches, Claxton is averaging 7.33 goals allowed and even scored a WLA- record two goals in the team’s win against Maple Ridge.