“The puck doesn’t know how big you are.”
Amidst the clichés and political-correctness that are expected in talking with athletes, there are certain phrases that ring true in ones mind. You can tell from the sincerity in their voices that they truly believe what they are saying. Karl Goehring truly believes the above quote, and he has no reason not to.
For those that are unfamiliar with his name, Karl Goehring is one that AHL scorers are beginning to remember, and dread. On a Syracuse Crunch team that is 15 games under .500, Goehring appears to be the light at the end of the tunnel for this hockey club. On a team that has allowed the 6th most goals in the American Hockey League, Goehring sits in the top 15 goaltenders for goals against average, with a mark of 2.54, despite being only 5’8, 160lbs. A statistic that doesn’t seem overwhelming at first, until you consider that when averaging out the goals per game allowed by the club as a whole (while subtracting Goehring’s statistics from the equation), Syracuse has a 3.85 GAA.
Those that are surprised with the success Karl Goehring is having this season shouldn’t be. He’s a natural winner, on and off the ice. Taking his skills to college, he, along with his North Dakota teammates, boasts a strong resume of accomplishments. In fact, there seems to be almost too many to list:
-was named WCHA Rookie of the Year in 1997-98
-first goaltender since Ed Belfour in 1986-87 to post a 20 win season (accomplished twice in 1997-98 and again in 1998-89)
-lead North Dakota to the NCAA Championship in 2000
-named first-team All American in 2000-01 season
-lead North Dakota to three WCHA titles in 4 years (1998, 1999, 2001)
-named WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year in 2000-2001
Despite all the accomplishments made early in his career, Goehring went unselected during his draft year. In fact, it wasn’t until May 7th, 2001 before an NHL organization was willing to give him a chance, when the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Goehring to his first professional contract. A moment Karl recalls with fondness in his voice. “It’s a dream, you know…signing the contract was a step towards the dream.” A dream that Goehring knows wont come easy, especially given the depth in the Columbus organization between the pipes.
The road to the NHL is going to be a hard one Karl realizes. He knows that he’s on his way to achieving his goal, a chance to play in the National Hockey League. He recognizes that he may be behind a player or two on the organizational depth chart for the Jackets, but competition is “…in (his) nature.” He makes it clear that all he can do is focus on playing to his own personal potential, and let everything else take care of itself.
One interesting and quite possibly unique factor tossed into the situation for Karl Goehring is his roommate and fellow AHL rookie, Pascal Leclaire. In typical fashion, Karl had nothing but positive things to say about his roommate, and considers it beneficial for his own development to have Pascal there. In fact, a strong bond, or friendship, has spawned out of competition with each other. Stated Goehring, “It’s a good situation because we’re friends, we know what the other is going through.” As well, despite the successes by Goehring, and the struggling by Leclaire, Goehring strongly insists that the statistics do not tell the whole story.
Goehring does not like statistics or what they represent, and would rather focus on one game at a time, a characteristic every goalie needs to develop to find success, approaching the game one shot at a time. In fact, Karl seemed disinterested in his desires to talk about his statistics, preferring to talk about the team as a whole, and the chance of Syracuse making a run towards the playoffs, and his hopes of “…sliding in the back door and doing some damage,” much like Chicago was able to do last season. In fact, if the team takes things one shift at a time, Karl believes they can get it together in the second half, something that Goehring was much a part of in the first half, enough so that he was named to the AHL All-Star Team.
Described as an honour to be considered for the All-Star squad, Goehring was delighted to be a part of the festivities with the highest level of his peers. Goehring was especially fond of playing against the elite that the league has to offer, including the likes of Jason Spezza and Ryan Kraft, who Karl named as some of the tougher opponents to play against this season.
But alas, this form of success and honour is not new for Goehring. His college career aside, Goehring attributes the majority of his success to his pre-collegiate days. Coaching was Karl’s biggest influence, especially when playing High School Hockey in Minnesota. More specifically, Goehring credits Paul Ospby, his coach while attending High School. It was Ospby who developed Goehring into the goaltender he is today. Stressing technique, more specifically skating, and Goehring’s strong mental approach, Paul Ospby managed to get Karl to buy into the system of technique over size, one that has worked well for Goehring. After all, the puck doesn’t know how big you are.