Goaltending is a unique position to play in any sport that requires it. As a goalie, you are the last line of defense, and counted upon if the opposition manages to infiltrate first-line defenders. Whether you are playing soccer, hockey or handball, it is a huge responsibility to keep a keen eye out for the ball or puck. It’s an important job, and that is why the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team has three goalies on the roster — to make sure the fortress is protected.
Junior goaltender Dan Sullivan led the Black Bears both in games played and in minutes on the ice. With a save percentage of .909 and 894 total saves, Sullivan will be a large part of the Black Bears’ plans to defend the goal. Fellow junior goaltender Martin Ouellette also saw a fair amount of playing time last year, with a .871 save percentage with 315 minutes in goal. It will be up to Sullivan and Ouellette to help freshman goaltender Matt Morris get used to the system.
Sullivan has confidence that he and Ouellette will be able to provide great help to the defense while showing Morris the Black Bear way.
“I’m having fun every day, I’m working hard every day, it’s a little bit of a different makeup as far as last year. We had a senior goalie putting me and [Martin Ouellette] under his wing, so to speak,” Sullivan said. “We have a freshman goaltender coming in who is a great goalie, he has a lot of potential. He is a great a great guy, too, on and off the ice. It’s a great pleasure to work with him. It’s a great mesh of personality and work ethic. We all get along extremely well. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I can’t wait to get going.”
With goaltenders playing a different role from most players on the team, one would think their offseason activities would differ. But Sullivan says that he and his fellow goalies tend to keep similar schedules and activities compared to the other players.
“Personally, I like to take a good bit of time off from getting on the ice. I’ll be training off the ice, getting work. I do a lot of racket sports, actually. I play a lot of squash to keep the feet going and for the reaction and competitive nature,” Sullivan said. “A lot of guys will play golf; some players will play more than others. It doesn’t differ too much between players and goalies, I know [Ouellette] gets on the ice more than I do. I’ll use synthetic ice as well. It’s like a plastic, make-believe ice surface. It’s a little tougher to skate on, but there is no maintenance.”
The summer is also a great time to clear the mind and set goals for the upcoming season.
“Summer is a great time to mentally refresh and recuperate. It takes a toll mentally — being in the grind, being focused, and being dialed in all the time — so it’s good to pull back on the reins and just dial it out for a little while,” Sullivan said.
Who will be the toughest team to beat remains to be seen; even Sullivan couldn’t provide an answer to who will be the hardest to stop.
“I don’t know, honestly.”
Look for Sullivan, Ouellette and Morris to lead the Black Bears in net this season against some tough Hockey East competition.