The folks at Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass., believe they have the Bay State’s best high school goaltender, and with a pretty good team in front of him, a chance to win the school’s first Super 8 championship.
Anyone that followed last year’s Super 8 would be hard pressed to disagree.
Colin Soucy was one of the breakout stars of last year’s tournament, stopping 114 shots in four games, including 85 of 92 in a three-game series loss to top-seeded St. John’s Prep.
Now a senior, Soucy’s focus is on one thing: Helping the Raiders make a fifth straight appearance in the Super 8, the top-tier Massachusetts high school hockey tournament that’s played out among the state’s top 10 teams.
“I’m really excited. It’s been anxious waiting for that first game. We’ve been looking forward to this all summer and all fall, playing with each other,” Soucy said before Central’s season opener in December.
“Our goal is to win the Super 8. We were pretty much a goal away from the semis last year, and we have a very similar team. Getting back to that point motivates me every day.”
At 6-feet tall, Soucy, a 17-year-old from North Andover, has good size in net and even better quickness. He has a very strong glove hand, and the kind of positional awareness in his crease that make tough saves look easy.
It’s the sort of mentality that’s developed over years of practice both on and off the ice. Soucy has faith in his ability to read the play and has worked to trust the way he’s been taught to play, which keeps him in position for big saves and possible second shots.
“If you play the puck the right way, it’s going to hit you,” Soucy said. “At the same time, if you have to sprawl out to make the stop, you have to be ready to do that.”
A student of Stop It Goaltending, Soucy spent the summer honing his flexibility and fitness. He’s hoping to be even better in 2013-14 than he was last year, when he posted 15 wins, a 2.13 goals-against average and a save percentage north of .920.
“You have to be technically sound, but you can’t get better technically without strength,” Soucy explained, citing the power needed to push across the crease to make a stop.
“To get better, you work on speed, quickness and agility. You can’t go into a season without having worked out, and in the summer we’re in the gym more than we’re skating. Both are really important.”
Soucy says Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers is probably his favorite goalie. Stylistically, however, he hopes to emulate one of the Bay State’s best ever, Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) of the New Jersey Devils. Schneider is also a Stop It alum, and his cool, easygoing demeanor in net made an impression on the senior at Central Catholic.
“I’m modeling him. He started out with Brian Daccord as a young (goalie), sort of like I did, and now he’s one of the top stars in the NHL,” he said. “He’s great to watch. He makes things look easy, but he can make amazing saves when he has to.”
Soucy relishes watching his close friends, like Joey Daccord at Cushing Academy and fellow Mass. high school goalie Elijah Harris at Austin Prep, play. Going against his goaltending brethren is always fun, too.
He’s a team-oriented netminder. As any goalie would, he loves shutouts, but he’d be happy to win a game 5-4, too.
“A win’s a win, but I’d never be thrilled giving up four goals,” said Soucy. “In a game like that, I’d be happy to win. But I’d also have to go back and look to see how I could be better to maybe make it a 5-1 or 5-2 game for us.”
Soucy played junior hockey when he was a sophomore and returned to the high school team for his junior year last season. He opened the year with an 18-save shutout, one of two he collected in 25 starts.
Soucy showed remarkable consistency throughout the season, allowing two goals or fewer in 17 of those starts. He was at his best in the postseason, stopping 29 shots in a win over Hingham in the Super 8 “play-in” game. Central then lost a best-of-three against St. John’s to end the 2012-13 season.
This year, the Raiders come into the season ranked in the top five in Massachusetts, with Soucy garnering a couple of preseason All-State nods. Central has to replace graduated top defenseman Nick Gorski and has an offense led by returning budding star Lloyd Hayes.
Central Catholic is one of the top basketball schools in Eastern Mass., having won a North sectional title last year and a state title in 2010. The Raiders also won Massachusetts’ Division 1 state football title this fall, and the hockey players feels like it’s their turn.
They’ve even had a taste of Central’s “Red Sea,” as the school’s rabid and boisterous student fan section has come to be known.
“Of course we love those crazies,” Soucy said. “Playing in front of more than one thousand fans, it always energizes you. It’s a lot of fun to make a save and hear that roar from your fans or the surprise from the other fans. You feed off it.”
With a clear foundation in place, and a rock between the pipes, Central is hoping to feed all the way to Massachusetts’ top honors next March.