College hockey: Union goalie Jake Kupsky sparkles in debut as starter
SCHENECTADY — Union College men's hockey coach Rick Bennett said during the preseason that the starting goalie job was junior Jake Kupsky's to lose.
It's a small sample size, but if Friday's 4-1 loss at Boston University is any indication, Kupsky isn't going anywhere in this depth chart.
Without benefit of seeing the game tape, assistant coach Jason Tapp, a former goalie who coaches that position for the Dutchmen, used the word "fantastic" to describe Kupsky on the internet broadcast immediately after the game.
The score, of course, is misleading. The Terriers scored two goals into an empty net in the final 1:14. Kupsky stopped 39 other shots from the No. 2 team in the country and did not give up an even-strength goal, as BU broke a 1-1 tie on the power play with 7:49 left in the third period.
For Kupsky, his performance validated the extra offseason work he did bolstering his physchological approach to his position, with the goal being to keep emotions in check during both bad times and good.
"Yeah, I think that worked tremendously," he said on Tuesday as the Dutchmen continue to prepare for their next – daunting – assignment, this weekend's Ice Breaker Tournament at Minnesota-Duluth. "I was trying to just stay in the moment. I really worked on that in the offseason."
"I thought he did a great job," Union captain Cole Maier said. "He was one of our best players. It was nice to see him play that well."
"It's one of those things where he's always trying to learn the game," Bennett said. "He's one of our hardest workers, so it doesn't surprise me one bit that he tried something else off the ice and maybe tried to help himself with not getting as many games as he wanted his freshman and sophomore years."
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Kupsky said he expects to see benefits from his new outlook not only within games, but over the course of the season.
He was used sparingly behind Alex Sakellaropoulos the past two seasons, but earned the starter's role without assuming it would be given to him. Goalies are inclined to second-guessing themselves every time they let the puck get by them, but the important reaction is to move on to the next play.
"That's just human nature; just get used to flushing it and go on to the next save," Kupsky said.
"I think it's a battle within the battle of your mind," Bennett said. "I guess the old cliche is how quickly can you get over it? I think Jake has that mentality, and all the great ones do. If I'm scored upon, it's a long game, and I'm going to bounce back. Give my team a chance to win."
The Dutchmen had that, for sure, but couldn't quite get past a BU lineup bristling with NHL draft picks.
The Terriers were 2-for-5 on the power play and got the game-winner from Dante Fabbro at 12:11 of the third. Of Kupsky's 39 saves, 15 came in that period.
"He was our best player, hands down, it wasn't even close," Bennett said after the game. "We were kind of hoping that some of our other guys would kind of play like him, but sometimes it's going to happen. Both goaltenders were excellent tonight. Story of the game was that they got one more by us, and that's a great learning lesson for us."
Kupsky was quick to credit his teammates for putting him in position to stop shots.
The Dutchmen did that by confining the deeply talented Terrier to shots from the outside and the point, for the most part.
"They gave me a chance to see the puck," Kupsky said. "Those are always going to be a lot easier to save than the point-blank ones.
"They had good stick on puck and played the body extremely well to force guys to go outside and go wide. Just give guys opportunities to shoot from the wall, and I should be making those saves. That's kind of what we've been preaching in the lockerroom, to have the goalie make the saves he should be making from there."
In the Ice Breaker Tournament, Union will play 5 p.m. Friday against Michigan Tech, which was among the four NCAA Tournament Midwest Region teams, along with Union, that played in Cincinnati in March.
On Saturday, the host school, UMD, will play the late game at 8:30 whether the Bulldogs win or lose on Friday against Minnesota. UMD reached the Frozen Four last season, and Minnesota also made the round of 16 before losing to Notre Dame.
The early game on Saturday will be played at 5. ...
Sophomore defenseman Vas Kolias, who played in 37 of 38 games last season, missed the BU game because of flu-like symptoms and should be back in the lineup soon, Bennett said.
This article is written by Mike MacAdam from The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.