The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Sunday, April 19, 11:08 p.m.

Senior goaltender Ott a leader on and off the ice

Senior goaltender Brittany Ott is used to success. The Michigan native has been the recipient of numerous accolades throughout her four years at the University of Maine and continues to creep up on the record books in her final season as she leads a young Black Bear team through what has been a turbulent start to the 2012 campaign.

On Nov. 12, Ott was named the Women’s Hockey East Association Defensive Player of the Week, adding to a resume that already includes Goalie of the Month honors for January 2012 and multiple Defensive Player of the Month and Player of the Week awards. The senior was selected to the WHEA All-Rookie Team in 2009 and has been honored several times for her academic achievements, including Hockey East All-Academic Team and Maine Scholar Athlete awards in 2010 and 2011.

Ott was also named as an Honorable Mention to the 2011-12 Hockey East All-Star Team. But for her, achievement isn’t measured by the accolades of a single player.

“Success is a team accomplishment, and whatever comes along with: That is a bonus,” Ott said. “The individual successes come as a byproduct of team successes.”

Ott’s career save percentage of .919 currently has her ranked first on UMaine’s all-time save percentage list. She sits second on the Black Bears’ all-time saves list, with 2,122 career stops, but she would be the first to dismiss the importance of holding records.

“I have always dreamed of setting records for this program, but holding records is not as important to me as our team success. The goal is always a Hockey East title,” she said.

Despite remaining competitive throughout the 13 games they’ve played thus far in the season, the Black Bears’ record stands at 2-10-1. Their most recent wins came when they played Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponent Bemidji State University in Minnesota on Nov. 9 and 10. After a disappointing series the weekend before against Hockey East rival Providence College, Ott played heavy minutes in the two-game series against BSU that earned her WHEA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The senior shutout Bemidji in the final 40 minutes of Game 1 to the tune of 37 saves and held the Beavers to two goals on 38 shots in a 2-2 tie in Game 2. She said the tough road test against BSU helped her bounce back after the series against the Friars and showed her team they are capable of beating difficult opponents as they move forward.

“Obviously the Providence series was upsetting for us,” Ott said. “We know that we are fully capable of beating [Providence], but we just weren’t able to put it all together that weekend.

“Bemidji was a huge accomplishment for us because it was a huge test. We came out of a three-goal deficit to pull out the win in the third period. We know that we can do great things when we are all on the same page and working hard,” she added. “Now we just have to put everything together against Hockey East opponents.”

Ott earned the start against rival UNH Nov. 17, producing 38 saves in the 2-1 loss. Although she remains firm in her stance that all three goalies remain in contention to start each game, head coach Maria Lewis said Ott’s play against the Beavers and the Wildcats helped Ott “position herself to reclaim that top spot.”

“She always gives us a chance to get points,” Lewis said. “It gives the team confidence having your stalwart in net backing you up.”

A multisport athlete, playing tennis and softball for Lakeview High School and named All-State in softball in 2008, Ott played hockey for the Little Caesar’s U-19 team in a girls’ travel hockey league before coming to UMaine. The Black Bears play roughly 32 games each season — something Ott said she had to adapt to after playing 80-game seasons in the travel league with Little Caesar’s.

“It was a huge transition from playing 19-and-under hockey because the speed is much quicker and the significance of each individual game is greater,” she said. “Each game takes a lot of preparation and practice and is a huge battle for us.”

Despite being recruited by Robert Morris University, Saint Anselm College and a plethora of Division-III schools, Ott said the culture of the program at UMaine was everything she was looking for, coming out of Michigan.

“I chose Maine because I had always had a vision of going to a university on the East Coast, and Maine was everything I wanted,” Ott said. “I wanted to have a part in building a program while still competing at the [Division-I] level.”

Although Ott said she may consider pursuing hockey after school once this season is complete, she plans to prepare for medical school and gain experience in the medical field once she graduates with a degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education/Pre-medical studies.

Ott started in net for UMaine against the Russian National Team on Thanksgiving day and played the first period, allowing one goal on nine shots. She said playing the Russians helped her team realize that they have to play their best every time out on the ice, regardless of what the name is on the other sweater.

“We let our competition against the Russians get away from us, but we are learning and growing every day as a program,” she said.

Ott and the Black Bears were swept at Boston College over the weekend, but will have a chance to increase the number in the win column this upcoming weekend in a home series against Dartmouth College. The games will be played  Dec. 8 and 9 at 3 p.m. in the Alfond Arena.