Liam Souliere To Start As Penn State Men’s Hockey’s Goalie In Big Ten Tournament
After backing up Oskar Autio all season long, Liam Souliere has received the starting job for the first game of Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament clash with No. 12 Ohio State, head coach Guy Gadowsky said on Monday.
Autio had the starting job for most of the season, but that started to change this past weekend when Souliere started two consecutive games for the first time this season. Despite not starting a game in nearly two months, Souliere has looked comfortable in the net since making his return to the crease, and his play has reflected that.
“We look at all the information and do what’s best for the team, period,” Gadowsky said. “That’s the way we always make decisions…They’re both great guys, but it’s a matter of wins, losses, goals against, and save percentage. That’s what it is. So, for me, it’s not that difficult.”
The Ontario native boasts a .902 save percentage and a 2.99 GAA throughout the season, which is slightly better than Autio’s .893 and 3.12 marks, respectively.
Even though he has not seen as much playing time as his senior counterpart, Souliere has been ready for a big moment like this for a long time.
“You prepare for moments like this,” Souliere said on Monday. “It’s not like you’re thrown into a situation where you’re not ready or not comfortable…You always have it in the back of your head, like, ‘I want to play. I want to be in the game.’ So, when it happens, you’re already ready for it.
Goaltending in hockey is certainly a tricky position. Mentally, it takes a different type of player to be able to knock pucks away left and right on the ice. Winning goalies all have different tendencies and methods of play, but there is one thing they all have in common: preparing at a high level off the ice. Souliere says he’s been doing just that.
“The game isn’t won the day you’re in the net,” he said. “It’s won every other day that you’re in practice and school. Your preparation is what makes sure that you’re ready or not.”
Not only have the coaches noticed, but the players have also seen Souliere’s grit and preparation on and off the ice throughout the entire season.
“[Liam] is one of those guys that works as hard as he can every day and just gets that 1% better every day,” sophomore defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. said on Monday. “When it’s his time to shine, he takes his opportunity.”
The sophomore defenseman went on to express his confidence in Souliere for the team’s upcoming match.
“We know when we need that big save, he is going to step up to the plate,” Dowd said.
Gadowsky didn’t go on to name a starter for the second game of the series, but it is safe to assume that Souliere will likely get the start again if all goes relatively well on Friday.
Penn State will travel to Columbus to begin the Big Ten Tournament on Friday, March 4. Puck drop for games one and two of the best-of-three series is set for 7 p.m.
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