Ice hockey: Freshman goalie seizing the moment, hoping for more

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Ohio Hockey is putting together a very solid season. The team’s recent success has come behind a backup, freshman goalie who didn’t even plan to play hockey when he enrolled at Ohio University.

Brendan Madden is that goalie, and when Fedor “Teddy” Dushkin, his teammate and fellow goalie, went down with an ankle injury on November 26, Madden was ready to step up. In fact, Madden recorded a shutout in his first start as a Bobcat.

“I came here and really wasn’t sure if I was going to play hockey at all, I wasn’t planning on it actually,” Madden said.

But after a meeting with head hockey coach Dan Morris, Madden’s plans changed.

“I went to see Coach Morris and I told him that I came here to focus on getting good grades. He said that’s great and all, but I wouldn’t cut that cord just yet,” Madden said.

Morris invited Madden to try out for the team, and as Madden said, “I ended up trying out, making the team, and the rest is history.”

Madden and Dushkin were battling it out for the starting job in the preseason. Before the season started, Morris was quoted in an article of The Post, saying, “Goalie is going to be a big question mark. You kind of look for a returning guy to step up, and neither one of them is setting themselves apart right now.”

Eventually, Dushkin “stepped up” and claimed the starting job for the Bobcats, but Madden was not discouraged.

“I wasn’t fazed by the decision at all, I figured Teddy’s been here longer than I have, he’s got college experience under his belt. He knows what he’s doing, I’m the new guy, here to cover his back,” Madden said.

However, Madden got a chance to play when Dushkin got injured, and he has made the most of his opportunity. Madden is 5-3 in Dushkin’s absence, with two shutouts – one each against Kent State and West Virginia.

Madden has been “pleasantly surprised” with his play and he appreciates everything that his teammates and coaches have done for him.

Surprisingly, Madden looks back to a 3-1 loss against Arizona as the game that best showcased his goaltending skills.

“We lost that game, but I felt like I gave it everything I had and gave the team a fighting shot,” Madden said.

Being a starting goalie on a college team is no easy task, especially for a freshman, but Madden claims to feed off the pressure. “You know, I kind of like it (the pressure),” said Madden, “I like having that feeling that everything is on your shoulders. It puts me in the right state of mind.”

The pressure that comes with being a goalie is unique in hockey, “as the goalie, the score reflects you,” said Madden. He went on to explain, “As a forward, you don’t really have a lot to worry about, if you lose the game it could be someone else’s fault. As a goalie, if you lose 7-1, you look terrible, even if the entire team didn’t perform well.”

Madden and Dushkin are friends, “He (Dushkin) has always been there for me,” Madden said, but, at the end of the day, the two are still battling for the starting position.

Dushkin has been rehabbing his ankle and appears to be “pretty close to being 100 percent,” as Madden put it.

So, the question is, when Dushkin is healthy, who will be the Bobcat’s starting goalie? While no one knows the answer to that question, Madden is sure of one thing, “it’s going to be a battle.”

Morris hasn’t mentioned anything about the situation, but Madden believes that he deserves a shot at the starting job.

“I’d say I should be given at least a chance, I think I’ve proven myself. Not to take anything away from Teddy, he’s a fantastic goaltender, but I feel like I’ve been winning a lot, and I want to continue to help the team win,” Madden said.

As stated before, Madden is 5-3, allowing two goals per game as a starter. Dushkin has a better record at 15-4, but he allows slightly more goals per game than Madden, with a 2.6 goals against average.

Their stats are similar, and the decision about the starting job will be tough for Morris. Whatever the decision made by Morris is, Madden vows to keep his head up and to “keep going about business the way it is.”

As Dushkin nears a full recovery, the starting goalie position is uncertain for Ohio. However, one thing is certain, even though he wasn’t planning on playing at the beginning of the school year, the Bobcats can count on Brendan Madden.