I am writing this on April 13th, 2019 on what is an emotional day for me. When I first met Joey on April 13, 2013, he was 14-years old, 35-pounds overweight and said he wanted to play in the United States Hockey League (USHL).
Tonight, six-years later, Joey, now 20-years old, had his final game after two-years in the USHL. From here, he’s moving on to play for St. Cloud in Minnesota, which is notoriously a #1 ranked Division-1 program. Incidentally, St. Cloud’s last four goalies went on to play in the NHL.
What makes today emotional is contemplating the road Joey and I have traveled to arrive at where he is today and where he’s going tomorrow. We’ve had switchbacks, hills and close calls along the way. I’m not going to say it’s been a long road because who can judge? Saying it’s been hard is another judgement so I won’t say that either. I will say the road he’s chosen to travel has had challenges. We’ve identified them, addressed them, and as a result, gained skill and experience.
The reason Joey is so good and will continue to increase in skill is his emotional intelligence. I don’t accept superficial answers to questions such as, “How are you feeling?”
He may reply, “Well, I’m a little anxious about …”
I’ll respond by saying, “Anxious is an excuse for not being vulnerable,” and continue by asking, “So,tell me the truth, how do you feel?”
He’ll think deeply and really concentrate, after which he’ll reply, “I’m feeling afraid because…”
As you can see, a young man who happens to be an athlete that is comfortable at working on being vulnerable becomes very honest. And when he’s honest, he can see his challenges in full light. When he can see his challenges clearly he can overcome them. As a result, he becomes more skilled.
Here’s a few reason’s Joey has had success in his career thus far:
-He trains as often as 5 days per week
-He’s committed and patient
-He has high emotional intelligence
-He is honest
-He is competitive
-He not afraid to train light
Lastly, I would like to talk about the Team USA Vs. Madison Capitols game. It’s the game where Joey stopped 58 of 61 shots to provide a win for his team. While that in itself is impressive, what you might not know is that it wasn’t just any team Joey was playing against. It was a team with 10 first round NHL draft picks that had not lost a game in three months.
Watching Joey’s performance in this game and how he stopped the projected #1 NHL draft pick, Jack Hughes, on numerous one-on-one attempts was amazing. The level of mental focus required of a goalie to withstand such an onslaught of shots is nothing short of incredible! Just to put it in perspective, 61 shots in one game from the top players in the world is one shot per minute. The puck was in the Madison zone every minute of the entire game. Even when he wasn’t receiving a shot, he was in a position to do so. That’s tiring.
In my mind, I’m thinking Joey can retire now after pulling off this stunt. I wouldn’t recommend it, I want to see him do this again and again at St. Cloud and then, hopefully, the NHL.