Union hockey: Dutchmen confident Stevens can carry the load
SCHENECTADY Colin Stevens has a quiet personality, but don’t let that fool you. The Union hockey junior goalie and Niskayuna native is as confident as they come.
Now, Stevens will get his chance to be the Dutchmen’s No. 1 goalie this season. With the departure of Troy Grosenick to the pros, it’s Stevens’ time.
“The team has always had trust in Colin,” senior defenseman and team captain Mat Bodie said at the Dutchmen’s media day on Thursday at Messa Rink. “We see him in practice, and he’s working hard. He’s gotten stronger every year. I think he’s ready for a good season.”
The Dutchmen open their 23rd NCAA Division I season next Friday when they host Bowling Green at Messa Rink at 7:30 p.m.
“First impression [is] you may say he is little shy and shies away from the crowd,” Bodie said. “But we all know him, and he’s a confident kid. In the room, everybody loves him. We’ll be doing everything we can to help him out.”
The 20-year-old Stevens sat and watched Grosenick lead the Dutchmen to two straight ECAC Hockey tournament titles, a trip to the 2012 Frozen Four and last year’s NCAA hockey tournament East Regional final. Shortly after the regional final, Grosenick gave up his senior season and signed with the San Jose Sharks.
But when Stevens was called upon, he did a nice job. He played in 12 games last season, starting seven of them, and was 5-3 with a 1.62 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. In his two years with Union, Stevens is 9-5-4 with a 1.96 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
“I put in a lot of work this offseason, like I do every offseason,” Stevens said. “I try not to overthink things. I’m just taking it day-by-day in practice. Obviously, there is competition. There are two other great goalies here [freshman Alex Sakellaropoulos and junior Dillon Pieri]. We push ourselves everyday in practice. I’m just looking forward to getting going here.”
While Stevens is in great shape physically, Union coach Rick Bennett sees a big difference in his mental outlook.
“I think it’s confidence,” Bennett said. “He had an excellent summer, as far as getting bigger and stronger, as he did between his freshman and sophomore years. It’s just showing confidence mentally. I thought that was the biggest hurdle, the mental block.”
Three of Stevens’ wins last season were shutouts. The third one was the biggest because it helped the Dutchmen secure the fourth seed and the final ECACH tournament first-round bye on the final night of the regular season. Stevens made 24 saves in Union’s 4-0 victory over Clarkson on March 2 at Messa.
Stevens started in place of Grosenick, who was injured midway through the third period of Union’s game against St. Lawrence the previous night. Stevens was sharp in the first 10 minutes against Clarkson, stopping all 10 shots he faced while the Dutchmen managed just three during that stretch.
“I remember our freshman year, he stepped in [during] a huge weekend against Cornell and Colgate and got a tie and a win,” junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “He’s just ready to go right off the bat. He was behind Troy for two years, and sees what he has to do. He definitely gained some experience last year, and his stats prove it that he’s ready to go.”
Stevens had the best seat in the rink, watching Grosenick perform.
“I learned a ton from Troy, obviously,” Stevens said. “The things he does, mainly [with] preparation, day in, day out, and the little things he did, whether it was at the rink, or at the gym or on and off the ice. He prepared like a pro, and that’s probably a big reason he’s a pro now.”
While Bennett wouldn’t say who will be starting in the opener, he has faith in Stevens.
“It’s Colin’s time to shine, as well as [for] Alex and Dillon,” Bennett said. “Every practice are their games. And every goalie ices their game to prove that they, let’s be honest, that they’re better than Colin. It’s Colin’s job to keep that job now.
“With that said, I think the guys have a tremendous amount of respect for Colin Stevens and whoever’s in that net.”
Bodie is the team captain for the second straight year. He will have three new alternate captains — Gostisbehere and senior forwards Daniel Carr and Cole Ikkala. . . .
The Dutchmen will play their Garnet-White intrasquad scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. . . .
Union assistant coach Jason Tapp and his wife Nicole Lally, are expecting their third child in April. Lally is a news reporter for ABC10 (WTEN).