Roman Basran: Chasing The Dream With The Canucks
Former Kelowna Rockets goaltender Roman Basran is always learning while carving out an unconventional path to the pros. The 22-year-old has made a few pit stops since his time with the Rockets en route to his current job as the Vancouver Canucks practice goalie.
“It’s definitely different, it’s not the same route that most people would take. It’s a good way to get my foot in the door rather than playing in the ECHL,” said Basran about accepting the Canucks practice goalie position in a telephone interview with kelowanrockets.com recently.
Basran, who spent parts of four seasons with Kelowna between 2017 and 2021, found his way to the Ontario Hockey League for his 20-year-old season.
After 120 games with the Ogopogo on his jersey, the Rockets released the Delta, BC product in July 2021 after he went unclaimed by any other Western Hockey League teams. With a career 2.90 goals-against average and .905 save percentage, he was scooped up by the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
Thankful for his time with Kelowna but grateful for the fresh start with the Steelheads, Basran flourished.
He was 21-14-1-6 with a 2.60 goals-against average, .896 save percentage and two shutouts in 45 games for Mississauga during the 2021-22 season. The GAA ranked second among all OHL goaltenders that season.
Asked about if there was a difference between stopping pucks in the Western Hockey League and in the Ontario Hockey League, Basran said that he felt the leagues were similar but had differences in the way the game is played.
“The WHL might be a little more defensive and the OHL might be a little more run-and-gun, but I think both leagues are the exact same. It’s really just the way that the teams play and the style of play. If you look at the goals against averages and save percentages, across the three CHL leagues they’re all different but the players skill level is the same across the board.”
Unfortunately, his 20-year-old season came to an end in playoffs where he suffered a lower-body injury that required season-ending surgery. It was the second time the goaltender had faced the setback of an injury that required surgery, in January 2018 a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) required surgery and six months of rehab.
“I was out for seven months or something like that. We were playing against Hamilton in the playoffs and I went down in game two with a meniscus injury. I needed to wait for the inflammation to go down before they could do the surgery, after that I couldn’t walk for like two or three months. Then I had the surgery and there’s the physio aspect of it, like training yourself to walk again.”
The thought of quitting the game never entered Basran’s head, determined he pushed his way through rehabbing his injury and returned to the ice.
He decided to utilize his CHL Scholarship that he received while playing for Kelowna and Mississauga to attend Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario while also playing for their USports hockey team.
With the Brock Badgers, he appeared in seven games posting a 5-2-0 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
“I wasn’t planning on going the University route, at the time it made the most sense to go there. I ended up really liking it, but my whole life I’ve known that I wanted to be a pro. Whatever path was going to lead me to play pro I was going to follow, that’s how I ended up going to the ECHL in the spring.”
While at Brock, his teammate was being scouted by the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder which in the end turned into a contract offer for Basran.
“It’s pretty funny how things work. I guess because they did their research on him, they were then watching me at the same time and I didn’t even know it.”
On March 5th he made his debut with the Thunder, stopping 45 of the 49 shots he faced from the Utah Grizzlies. He appeared in 11 games going 4-6-1 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
While in Kansas, Basran crossed paths with fellow former Rocket Mark Liwiski, who also played for the Thunder last season.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to play pro and just understand the slight differences between the CHL and University compared to the ECHL. It’s a pretty good league, there are a lot of good players.
“We weren’t the strongest team and I was averaging 50 shots a game, but it was a good opportunity for me to get my foot in the door where I got to play every game and put up some pretty good numbers considering I was averaging so many shots a game.”
The Thunder failed to qualify for the playoffs and Basran began to explore his options for the 2023-24 season. That’s where an unconventional offer came in, not to play but to be a practice goalie for the team he grew up cheering for.
“I wasn’t going back to Wichita, so I was searching in the ECHL for a place. Ian Clark, the Vancouver Canucks Director of Goaltending, reached out to my goalie coach and he put me in contact with him. I got the offer from the Canucks and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m going to take this,’ so I stopped searching.”
Basran isn’t sure if any other NHL teams employ a practice goalie, but he’s soaking up everything that he’s learning from the team he grew up cheering for. An unconventional route, he’s hopeful that the opportunity will lead him back to playing pro down the line.
“Yogi Svejkovsky, who coached me growing up, is now a skills coach for the Canucks. We go on the ice either before or after with some of the players who want extra work. Going out with him helps, just hearing his feedback on things.
“I get gear, a mask and I have a stall in the room, it’s pretty cool. It’s a great way to learn from everybody, to be out with some of the best players in the world shooting on you and to learn the NHL level of doing things.”