Between the Pipes

With both the Saint men’s and women’s hockey teams entering the February stretch run in ECAC competition well established in the upper echelons of the league standings, the coaching staffs of both teams can look at their goaltenders as a considerable part of the team success.

Heading into the final weekend of January, the Saints share the league lead with Union College with 21 points despite playing without several key players since the start of second half action in the men’s league. Junior goaltender Kyle Hayton is ninth nationally among all Division I goalies based on save percentage (.933), leads the country in saves (694) and shots faced (744) and his 2.08 goals against average in 24 games played is in the top 15 nationally. He is second in goals against average overall among all ECAC goalies and leads in save percentage and in league only play his 1.34 goals against average and .954 save percentage are easily the best.

The story is similar on the women’s side as the Saints are second, two points behind neighboring rival Clarkson and Grace Harrison has put up glittering numbers between the pipes with a 1.49 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and a 9-2-1 record in league play and is 16-3-2 with a 1.61 goals against average and a .923 save percentage overall. Grace has recorded seven shutouts in her sophomore season as the Saints are 19-3-2 overall and 11-2-1 in league play.

Solid goaltending is nothing new in either Saint program…although the level both Hayton and Harrison are playing at this season is remarkable. In her first 42 collegiate appearances Harrison has a 1.86 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and 10 shutouts. Hayton earned his 50th career win with a 3-0 shutout at Colgate and has a 2.02 career goals against average, a .935 save percentage and a program record 12 shutouts in 93 career starts. The men’s program has produced seven All America goaltenders with Bill Sloan earning that honor in back-to-back seasons in 1954 and 1955. Hayton passed Sloan’s career shutout record earlier this season and is in pursuit of Sloan’s career record of 65 wins. All but two of the All America seasons featured goals against averages below 3.00, with Bob Perani’s 2.22 with a .933 save percentage in 1964 the best among them in both of those stats. Perani’s big year fell right behind an impressive All America season by Richie Broadbelt in 1963 which included a .925 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average.

While the women’s program has had only one All America goaltender in its much shorter history, Meaghan Guckian’s  17 career shutouts are obviously in jeopardy with Harrison looking at over two full seasons left in her career. But some of Rachel Barrie’s other program marks…77 career wins, .927 save percentage and 2.04 goals against average are going to take some doing to surpass. While the All America awards haven’t piled up, there have been some impressive performances since the Saint women moved to Division I. The duo of Jess Moffatt and Meaghan Guckian split the 2005-06 season with Moffatt posting a 1.28 goals against average, .942 save percentage and a 18-3-0 mark in 21 games and Guckian putting up a 1.27 goals against average, .935 save percentage and 13-2-2 record in 17 starts. Guckian had 74 career wins and joins Barrie, Carman MacDonald (65) and Brittany Chartier (62) among the leaders in that category.

While the ladies probably did not experience the old leather and horsehair pads that were the norm in the men’s games into the 1980s, they certainly have flashed the same glove, stick and pad save skills that have been on display by goaltenders at Appleton Arena for years. And pads for both genders have gotten lighter, safer and glitzier in recent years. As a matter of fact, Hayton’s current pads were recently recognized in a tweet by a guy whose handle is Goalie Gear Nerd as “one of the best set-ups in hockey. Not just college hockey, just hockey.”

Goaltending is playing a huge role this year as it has in the past and will be a key to post-season success for both teams. But as a ditty passed along by coach Morris points out, it usually has a significance for all teams:

“Ode To Turk Broda” (Toronto Maple Leaf goalie, Hall of Famer with 629 career starts, 2.53 career goals against average and 62 NHL shutouts)

“Perhaps not as great at the greatest, nor as good as the best, but he was always the goalie who was game enough to win.”