‘From the net outward’
Holy Cross' Matt Ginn continues to build impressive career
WORCESTER, Mass. -- "Save by Ginn!"
The phrase has been uttered more than 3,000 times by hockey broadcasters during the past four years during Matt Ginn's career at Holy Cross. Ginn, the Lindsay, Ontario native, has been a staple of consistency on the ice, while quietly leading his teammates from the net on outward. During his time with the Crusaders, Ginn has broken countless school records for the men's ice hockey program -- among others, the school's all-time career saves list.
Ginn recorded 26 saves in a 2-2 tie against Sacred Heart on Nov. 1, breaking the all-time saves record in front of a home crowd at the Hart Center. He surpassed Paul Pijanowski (1984-1987) who held the school's all-time record with 2,915 saves. Ginn, as of Nov. 15, now has 3,055 saves, which is the most by any current Division I goalie.
Before Ginn began tearing down records, he was a member of the Victoria Grizzlies in the British Columbia Hockey League. The move from junior hockey to the collegiate level wasn't the easiest for Ginn as he adjusted to his new teammates and surroundings. "The jump [from juniors to college] was pretty tough, but having a majority of returners on the team was great," Ginn said. "There was a real family mentality from day one, and having the seniors around on and off the ice was a huge help."
Ginn carried the load for the majority of his first year, starting in 27 of 28 games between the pipes. His 17-8-2 record not only earned him Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie honors, but also the respect and confidence of his teammates.
"Carrying the load was a great opportunity to get the reps I needed to work on my game," said Ginn of his freshman season. "I felt like I was fairly consistent, and having the support of the guys on the team was a huge help. I trust the guys in front of me, and they stepped up to make the transition that much smoother."
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“I can't do it all by myself. My teammates have bailed me out of some tough situations.”
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Praising his teammates is not an uncommon sign from Ginn, the Holy Cross captain. Some contend that a hockey team is built from the net outward, but don't tell Ginn that. "I can't do it all by myself. My teammates have bailed me out of some tough situations. We are a family up here on the hill, and everyone is willing to lay down for one another on and off the ice."
This team-first mentality has not shifted much in the four years that Ginn has been sprawling between the pipes inside the Hart Center. Asked what word best described his time here at Holy Cross, Ginn was quick to answer: "Consistency. That's what it's been all about for me. I try to go into each game with the same mind set. As long as I do my job, and the guys play as hard as they do in front of me, we have a great chance to win every time we take the ice."
Before the fans swarm the bleachers on the far side of the Hart Center rink, Ginn is seen sitting all by himself a few rows up in the student section. While other teammates loosen up by tossing the pigskin, juggling a soccer ball in a group circle or taping their sticks, Ginn composes himself as he takes in the cool air that fills the rink and prepares for the game. Not much of a rah-rah guy himself, Ginn uses a quiet but powerful approach to lead his team on and off the ice.
"There are a bunch of great leaders on this team. Matt [Vidal] and I are honored to dawn the 'C' on our sweaters, but I prefer to lead by example. I let my actions help guide the team, and help the younger players out when they need me just as the seniors helped me when I was making strives as a freshman."
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“We believe that we can skate with any team on any given night.”
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No matter if Ginn is making his first start in net or leading his team out on the ice as a senior captain, the ultimate goal hasn't changed from the time he arrived in Worcester: to win an Atlantic Hockey championship and play in the NCAA Tournament.
"We have a group of guys that we believe in," Ginn said. "We believe that we can skate with any team on any given night. We want to play the best teams and you become one of the best by getting to the NCAA Tournament. We've won against top teams in the past and it only makes us a better team by playing them."
Ginn has picked up some very impressive wins throughout the years, including a 5-4 win against No. 7 Boston University in only his third start. He and the Crusaders also took down eventual national champion No. 15 Yale as a sophomore, and most recently, he helped Holy Cross upset No. 7 Boston College 5-4 last November.
The plan moving forward is clear, but how the season will end is not. Ginn and the Crusaders (3-1-4 Atlantic Hockey, 3-5-4 overall) sit in second place in the conference. He posted his sixth career shutout on Saturday in a 0-0 tie against Army. The team plays host to rival Bentley on Nov. 25 and non-conference opponent Brown on Nov. 30.
"We have to be ready every game," Ginn said. "It doesn't matter if it is the first game, a game in the middle of the season or a playoff game. We have to come to work each day with the same mindset. This will help us make strides as we progress through the season."
No matter the progress that the men's hockey team makes during the season, the fans that have packed the Hart Center for the past four years have been treated to one of the best players to take the ice for the purple and white. Ginn has been there for the good games and the bad ones, but in his final season, he now has a chance to leave behind a bigger legacy than just the records on the wall. He has the opportunity to raise a conference banner and help lead this team to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
That remains the focus. That's what Ginn wants to be remembered for. That's what this team wants to be remembered for.