Three goalies, one net

Brett Johnson, Herald Reporter

Friendly competition is what motivates the goalies on the Roger Williams University club men’s ice hockey team. All three work hard in practice, but there is only one starting spot on game day.

Throughout the 2016-17 season, junior Ryan Shea earned the most playing time over two seniors, but junior Marc Frederick, who did not see the ice last season, has received the brunt of playing time for the Hawks so far in 2017 and is ranked 28th among American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II goalies. Shea and sophomore Jack LaCasse have also found their way onto the ice this season.

“I feel like we’re all No. 1 goalies,” Frederick said. “Whoever is in the net gives us the best shot to win.”

The Hawks have been putting together a strong season so far with a 13-3 record. The first weekend of December brought two wins. One came against Bryant University Friday, Dec. 1, in overtime by a score of 6-5 and the most recent was an 8-3 win over Siena College on Saturday, Dec. 2.

With the roles somewhat reversed, Frederick, in 12 games, has gotten almost 700 minutes of playing time and has 376 saves. His save percentage is up to .942 and has racked up three shutouts. Shea, who played in 13 games and had a 9-3 record last season, has only made five appearances so far this season. In those five games and 240 minutes, he has earned a 3-2 record. With 119 saves, he has a .875 save percentage. LaCasse, who did not receive any playing time last season, has played in one game this season for 40 minutes and had 18 saves in his sole appearance.

Each goalie had their own goals and skills they wanted to work on entering the 2017 season. Frederick’s basic goal was to earn more playing time, which he certainly has, but he has now focused more on technical skills. Equipped with quick legs, Frederick has struggled with controlling those fast feet. He finds himself spreading out and going for the “desperation save” too early, which sometimes gets him in trouble.

LaCasse has been working on rebound control this season with the goalie coach, an RWU alum. He also is trying to track the puck longer, even on a missed shot.

“I just go out there every day and try my best. Hockey is a lot of fun, so I’m just working on it and trying to earn time,” LaCasse said.

The three goalies may be friends off the ice, but when they are practicing and fighting for a spot in the net, companionship goes out the window.

“We’re all pretty competitive with each other, so in practice we compete,” Frederick said. “We support each other, too, so for us it’s a good mix.”

“We have a really tight-knit group who work off each other and get each other motivated and going every day,” said LaCasse.

While trying to outplay each other, all three have a team-first mentality and support whoever earns the starting job.

“Whoever is the hot hand, I think they deserve it,” Frederick said.

It has been seen throughout the season, however, that anyone is eligible for the starting position, so the goalies have to be at their very best each day.

The goalies would not be successful without their defense in front of them, though.

“A lot of freshmen are playing defense this year and they have done a great job stepping up,” Frederick said.

Despite who is in the net, the goalies plan to keep up their success. The Hawks are rolling into the final stretch of the season, which will wrap-up in early January. As of Nov. 22, which is when the most recent rankings were released, the Hawks were ranked 13th in the Northeast division. According to Frederick, in order to make regionals, the Hawks would need to be ranked 15th or higher.

The Hawks have five games left to play this regular season, and the goalies are optimistic they will bring home another conference championship and earn a trip to nationals.

“[We’re going to] try to keep rolling as we head into tougher teams,” LaCasse said.