You know you’re doing something right as an athlete when your coach loses sleep over not starting you in a game.
Ohio State senior goalie Brady Hjelle is doing things right as his coach has done the late night pacing to prove it.
Hjelle has been honored as the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s goaltender of the week for the second time this season after a two game series against Lake Superior State.
“Brady (Hjelle) deserves it,” sophomore forward Ryan Dzingel said. “He is a hard worker that has produced at every level he has been at.”
Hjelle said he is trying to staying focused despite the accolades.
“I’m proud of it,” he said, “but it has nothing to do with our standing in the league. Right now points are more important than individual awards.”
Hjelle has been superior in league play games, leading the CCHA in both goals-against average and save percentage. His GAA is .62 and his save percentage is .977.
To put that in perspective, Hjelle is third in the NCAA in those two categories with an overall GAA of 1.14 and a save percentage of .961. If his overall numbers were the same as his league play statistics he would be leading nation in both categories.
Hjelle started the first game against the Lake Superior State last weekend and gave up only one goal on 32 shots in an OSU win.
However, coach Mark Osiecki elected not to start Hjelle in the second game of the series. He was attempting to get freshman goalie Collin Olson some experience and put some pressure on Hjelle to keep playing his best hockey.
Rotating goaltenders is a philosophy the coaching staff has been using all season.
In the second game against the Lakers, it backfired.
Lake Superior State scored two goals against Olson in the first 15 minutes of the game, and then Osiecki put Hjelle in. OSU eventually lost 3-2.
The decision to start Olson may or may not have cost the Buckeyes the game, but it definitely cost Osiecki some sleep.
“I woke up at 4:55 in the morning, walking around the house going, ‘I should have played Brady (Hjelle),'” Osiecki said.
While the team’s philosophy of alternating goalies currently has OSU in second place in the CCHA, a win in their last game would have put them in first.
The Buckeyes trail the first place Miami Redhawks by a single point in the standings.
Osiecki said that if Hjelle plays well in the first game against Michigan State, he may get to start the second as well.
When Osiecki was asked if he had any experience with a goalie as hot as Hjelle is right now, his answer was simple.
“Only in Xbox,” he said.