It’s hard to find a goaltender in UK hockey who’s had a more interesting season than 19-year-old Jordan Lawday. After initially starting the year playing for the Ogden Mustangs of the WSHL, he returned home from North America where it wasn’t long until the Cardiff Fire came calling.
With the Fire, Lawday instantly became not just arguably the teams best player but also their most important. Guarding the net for a team that failed to pick up a single victory this year may be a psychological battle for any young goaltender, but without Lawday the Fire would have been blown away in each and every game.
As the Fire began to find a rhythm late in the season, it was the impeccable play of Lawday in a double-header weekend in March that helped the team to their first points of the year, with two overtime losses against the Invicta Dynamos and then against the Swindon Wildcats where he faced an unbelievable 79 shots and only allowed three past him.
Now that the Cardiff Fire season has wrapped up, Lawday again finds himself on another team, playing for the Cardiff Devils as a back up as the team look to rest some of their star players like goalie Ben Bowns as they gear up for the EIHL playoffs.
Throw in a bronze medal for GB at the 2018 IIHF World Juniors in December and it’s fair to say Lawday has had quite an eventful season.
“I think the season has gone as expected” Lawday said talking about his year with the Fire. “Partly because we are a new team in a new league and looking at the lineups from some of the other teams we don’t have as much depth or experience as them.
“We have had a pretty rough season that’s safe to say, but all the boys have stuck with it.
“I think I did good, I definitely looked back at some games and can see where I need to work on but I feel I just played my game this season and tried to give us a chance to win every game the same as the rest of the boys did.”
Lawday started the year in Utah, his second year in North America after spending he 2016-17 season with the Soo Indians U18 AAA, where in 22 games he posted a solid .900 save percentage, which was third best in the overall league among foreign goaltenders, behind Nahuel Veyan of France and Korbinian Lutz of Germany.
“I was playing in Utah and I didn’t feel it was the right fit for me so I did some research into the NIHL then saw Cardiff’s results weren’t the best so I managed to get in contact with Cudds when I got home to see where he was at.
“At the time he’d had injury’s so decided to bring me in which I’m so grateful for and that’s really how me joining the Fire started.”
In the Fires two-year history before joining the NIHL 1 South this year, it was rare to find a goaltender who could say they had ever beaten Cardiff.
During the 15/16 and 16/17 seasons, the Fire were an unstoppable force in the NIHL 2, but Lawday handed Cardiff their first ever loss as a club despite facing 55 shots, and facing a lot of shots is something he’s been used to this year, something that Fire head coach Mark Cuddihy even acknowledged in the teams press release when they signed him back in October saying “I have long been an admirer of Jordan.
“Jordan was actually to blame for the first ever Cardiff Fire loss, we had 55 shots on him but only managed 2 goals. I did remind him of that in a phone call earlier this week, we aren’t going to forgive him for that but we are really happy to have him with us now.”
Despite the Fires struggles this year, Lawday’s performance in net has really elevated his status as one the most promising goaltending prospects in the UK.
He represented Great Britain at the World Juniors in December and came back with a Bronze Medal, while previously he’s also represented the Under 18 side at the 2016 World Juniors, and with his play of late it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Lawday pushing for calls up to the senior squad in a few years time.
Now that he’s been around an Elite League team with the Devils, it just adds more motivation for the young goalie to reach his aims for his career.
Lawday has high aims for next season wherever he ends up playing. “My goal’s to hopefully win the league, if you don’t aim for something high there’s no point aiming at all.
“My goal for my career is to be a starter in the Elite League one day.”
So with a lot more exposure after being brought in as an EIHL backup it’s sure to help Lawday going forward.
“Those guys in the Elite League are a different world. Even watching Bownsy and Murdy at practice is great because you can see what they use in different situations and maybe add it to your game.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to skate with them or any elite league team for at least a few years and then being able to back up for a couple games was an amazing experience.”
With the hockey season for the Fire done for Lawday, and a lot of confidence and expectations for the future, it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up playing next year, but his track record shows wherever he ends up playing, Lawday will hope to be a vital part to any teams potential success.
‘Lawday has had a fantastic season with the Cardiff Fire’
Photo Credit: James Assinder