Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pauli Jaks, Goaltender

Pauli Jaks was goaltender for the Switzerland world junior team in the 1991 and 1992 tourneys. Big deal, one might say. Well, yes it was a big deal, seeing as he was named All-Star AND Top Goalie in 1991.
I distinctly remember watching the first game of that '91 tournament held in Saskatoon. Canada beat the Swiss 6-0, but they peppered Jaks with well over 50 shots and they should have easily hit double digits. My friend and I decided to have a contest of sorts later that year by trying to collect the most Pauli Jaks Upper Deck rookies. I think I still have about 60 to this day. Jaks overall record of 1-4 with a 6.00 GAA doesn't seem worthy of Top Goaltender status, and perhaps it was more of a sentimental choice. Canada's Trevor Kidd who went 4-1-1 with a 2.25 GAA would probably have been the better choice. However, Kidd never really stood on his head in a close game and lost a big game to the Czechs to put the Gold medal hopes in jeopardy.
It's illustrated how important Jaks was to the Swiss as his backup allowed 18 goals in the two games that Jaks didn't play. His biggest moment would prove to be in beating Norway 2-1 to allow the Swiss to avoid relegation to the B pool.
Pauli Jaks would go on to be drafted that summer by the L.A. Kings in the 5th round in a fairly weak draft for goalies. He was actually picked ahead of Corey Hirsch and would play the following two years with L.A.'s top farm club in Phoenix. His one and only game in the NHL would come on Jan. 29, 1995 and as luck would have it I happened to be in a Vancouver sports bar (suprise) that night. The Kings game was on in the background of a pool game I was playing. When I saw Pauli Jaks take over for Jamie Storr to start the second period, I had to watch. He ended up allowing 2 goals on 25 shots for a .920 save Pct. in a 6-3 loss to Chicago. By the next game, Hrudey or Fuhr was back from injury, and Jaks was sent back down, never to return. He would return home to play the next nine seasons with HC Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss league and inspire the likes of Aebischer and Gerber.
As it is, my 60 Pauli Jaks rookie cards are worth perhaps 25 cents each.

3 comments:

Ross said...

now that there brings back memories - I think I won though because I somehow acquired about 100 cards at one card show...at .25 cents each I can almost buy a beer....

Will said...

I remember trying to collect all those world junior cards when I was a kid but never could find a Jaks card. I wonder if Pauli Jaks has any idea how famous he is in North America because of his inclusion in that set. :)

Will said...

Oh and those strange-looking Swiss jerseys...what memories.

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