Cab Morris was just barely eligible for the 2009 draft, making the cutoff by 11 days. The goaltender had put up good numbers at Hotchkiss School last season, a 2.12 GAA and .922 save percentage, but no NHL team committed a pick to him.
This season, Morris has moved to the higher-level USHL, and has shined. His save percentage is the best in the league at .918 and his goals-against average is third in the league at 2.28. His Indiana Ice are winning at a clip of .579, but Morris’ 12-7-1 record shows that he’s a difference-maker. He seems a sure bet to be drafted this summer.
An opposing coach, Green Bay assistant Jon Rogger, said of Morris, "He just looks bigger in net."
Looking big isn’t hard for someone who’s 6’3, 195 pounds, but it says something about his presence.
"He always seems to come up with the big save," Indiana defenseman Nick Mattson said of Morris. "Sometimes he pulls it out of thin air. It’s amazing some of the saves he makes. He always seems like he’s in the right place at the right time. He’s not lightning-fast, but he’s so fundamentally sound that he doesn’t need that. He’s been awesome for us this year."
Morris has a 4.3 GPA and will graduate from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis this spring. After that, he’s headed to Dartmouth College.
"He’s very dedicated. He works really hard on the ice, and is dedicated to school," Mattson added. "Just a hard-working kid."
Morris hails from Wilmette, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. Catching right, the opposite of most goaltenders, he gives shooters something extra to think about.
Morris was selected to the 2010 USHL All-Star Game, held in Indianapolis, but decided to sit the game out. He’s been playing every game lately with the team’s other goaltender unavailable.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Morris during the festivities.
HF: You’re out of the game for precautionary reasons?
CM: Yeah, I got hurt before winter break, I was hurt the first two weeks back, and I came back last weekend, but our other goalie’s pretty sick so I just didn’t think it would be a great idea to play in this game and risk getting hurt.
HF: Your injury was a groin?
CM: It was a groin/hamstring issue.
HF: Is it something you’ve had before?
CM: No, it was kind of a fluky thing that happened in our Cedar Rapids game right before the break.
HF: Were you disappointed that you didn’t get to take part in the game, especially with it being at home?
CM: It definitely would have been a lot of fun, but looking at the whole scheme of things, the regular season is most important.
HF: You’re having a pretty good year personally. What would you attribute your success to?
CM: I think personally my success has come a lot from the great coaching staff — Jeff Blashill our head coach was a goalie and I think he’s really been the key to my success this year. He gives a lot of feedback in practices, and just having him there has helped a lot.
HF: What do you guys work on in practice?
CM: He really tries to focus on the basics and being a good, solid, square, technical goalie and I think that’s definitely helped me a lot this year. It’s one of the things I’ve been working on for a while, getting the technical side of my game to be the best it can be.
HF: Who taught you to play goal originally?
CM: My dad was a goalie when I was a kid and he’s the one who kind of got me into it. But I think you teach yourself. I’ve had quite a few goalie coaches, some more influential than others, but a lot have been helpful.
HF: At some point you have to pick a style though, don’t you?
CM: I wouldn’t say I necessarily picked a style, there’s butterfly goalie but one of my old coaches (Mike Valley, now with the Dallas Stars) said the butterfly is a save, not a style. I’ve just kind of evolved my own game. I used to be a standup goalie when I was younger, but nowadays you can’t play without using the butterfly.
HF: Have you talked to NHL scouts this year?
CM: I was invited to Blackhawks prospect camp last summer, and that was a great place to show me what I needed to make it to that level. You don’t realize watching an NHL game how much faster the pace is, how skilled and how everyone knows how to do all the little things so well.
HF: You played with Mac Bennett (MTL) at Hotchkiss last year, right?
CM: Yeah, great defenseman, real good kid, good friend of mine. He’s a great skater, definitely an offensive-defenseman, puck-moving defenseman. He’s a one-man breakout for his team.
HF: You’ve now seen his evolution from prep to the USHL.
CM: He’s definitely matured into his role as a player. Last year he was really working on the defensive side of his game. I think he’s done a great job of that this year.
HF: Do you think he overcomes his size?
CM: He’s probably one of the most physically fit and strong guys, and definitely has the work ethic. If anyone questions his size, I’d say back to them that he’s got the heart and the drive to do it.
HF: Nick Mattson is eligible this year as well. How would you describe his play in front of you?
CM: He’s a great skating defenseman, really moves the puck well. Sees the ice well. Also a really great defensive-defenseman who you can rely on to be back, doing the right thing.
HF: Is Cab short for anything?
CM: My full name is Richard Cabell Morris III. It’s a long name.
HF: Was that originally a last name?
CM: Yeah, it was a last name, it’s a very English name. I’m named after William H. Cabell, Governor of Virginia.
HF: He was one of your ancestors?
HF: You’re headed to Dartmouth in 2011?
CM: 2010 or 2011. At the end of the year we’ll figure it out what is the best situation for Dartmouth and for me. I’m not too worried about it right now. For them, it’s what they feel they need to make the NCAA Tournament.
HF: If you go there in 2011, you’ll be here with Indianapolis next year?
CM: Yep, definitely.
HF: Why did you pick Dartmouth?
CM: It’s the best of both worlds — a great academic school and a great hockey program. Really good coaches who know the game well and are really looking at this league. They have a lot of kids coming in from this league to pick up their program into the top, contending NCAA teams.
HF: It’s far away for you, you cold be in the CCHA and be closer to home.
CM: Yeah, but I think it’s really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And it’s so hard to find a spot as a goalie in college hockey these days. There’s so few teams and so many great goalies. I had talked to them quite a bit last year out east and got to visit last winter and it just seemed like a great place.
HF: Mattson said you’re a brainiac so it’s a good fit for you.
CM: (laughs) I guess so, yeah.