GHS sophomore Patrick Sullivan has been the Guardians starting ice hockey goalie the past two seasons.
Not even a broken thumb could stop Patrick Sullivan from doing his job of protecting the net.
Sullivan, a sophomore goalie for the Glastonbury High School ice hockey team, broke his right thumb less than 48 hours before the Guardians were set to face Simsbury and he still played, saving 36 shots as the Guardians tied the high-powered Trojans on Jan. 14.
He broke the thumb when the digit was struck by a puck during a warm-up drill in practice on the Thursday before the Simsbury battle and thought he’d have to miss the game.
But at the last minute he was fit with a special cast and was cleared right before face-off, allowing him to have his Willis Reed-moment at the Koeppel Community Sports Center at Trinity College in Hartford.
“I hate missing practices and I haven't missed a game yet, so I was glad that I was able to play,” recalled Sullivan. “It was really bruised and I had to use four fingers instead of all five to grip the stick, but over time I got used to it.”
Sullivan is no stranger to playing through difficult situations. He was thrown into the fire a year ago, serving as the team’s starting goalie as a freshman.
Over his first two high school seasons, Sullivan has been reliable in more ways than one, only missing one practice and often being a stonewall in between the pipes.
GHS head coach Ken Barse called Sullivan the “backbone” on the team.
“He is our foundation. He sets the tone and his work ethic is incredible,” added Barse. “The guys know they can count on him. He’s the first guy out on the ice and he loves it, and that can be contagious.”
Sullivan said starting as a freshman increased his confidence, both physically and mentally.
“Last year I kind of just dove in,” recalled Sullivan. “It was a big challenge, but it really prepared me for this year.”
Playing goalie is nothing new to Sullivan, who first started playing hockey around the age of five and has always been the last line of defense.
“My dad was a goalie and I told him that I wanted to be a goalie,” added Sullivan. “[The position] is so different. There is only one goalie and there is a thrill with making a good save and knowing you are the barrier between them scoring and not scoring.”
After losing a strong senior class a year ago and with only three seniors on the ice this season, the Guardians have been in a bit of a rebuild.
But the tie with Simsbury, a Division I program that finished the regular season with a record of 15-2-2, showed the potential of the team. The Guardians also twice defeated East Catholic and had solid victories over Branford, Amity, Lyman Hall, and West Haven.
They closed the regular season by blanking South Windsor 2-0 on Feb. 25, cementing a spot in the Division II state tournament.
Sullivan rejected 22 shots in the win over the Bobcats, picking up his second shutout of the season.
Barse said Sullivan “took over the minute the puck dropped” against South Windsor.
“All you can hope for as coach is having a hot goalie going into the playoffs and last night he was on fire,” added Barse. “He was focused and he played confident, he controlled his rebounds well, and was aggressive.”
Helping Sullivan protect the backend is a strong defensive line, led by senior Andrew Hazard and junior Sean Huempfner.
Sullivan credited the defenders in front of him for their efforts this season, saying they have made his job a lot easier.
“We are a pretty young team and it took a little while to get fully comfortable with each other, but I think now we are pretty a close group of guys,” added Sullivan.
The Guardians––the No. 15 seed–– will play on the road in the state tournament, with the first round scheduled for Monday, March 6. Visit ciacsports.com for a complete list of state tournament schedules and results.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin