First-year University of Maine hockey coach Ben Barr has always said he has confidence in his three goalies but he was looking for one of them to emerge as the Black Bears’ No. 1.
Junior Matt Thiessen and sophomore Victor Ostman have each had some impressive performances this season. But there were also some shaky outings and lack of consistency has prevented both of them from seizing the starting job.
Ostman gave up two bad goals, one off his own turnover and another from a juicy rebound he left, in the 4-3 win over Union on Dec. 11 and Thiessen allowed five goals on just 15 shots in Friday night’s 6-2 loss to Alaska-Fairbanks.
Sophomore Connor Androlewicz, 21, replaced Thiessen in the second period in a mop-up role.
It was his first game action as a Black Bear and he made 11 saves on 12 shots to earn himself Saturday night’s start in the team’s second matchup with Alaska-Fairbanks.
He responded with a 27-save outing in UMaine’s come-from-behind 4-2 triumph.
So he will now receive a crack at earning the full-time job on Friday night when UMaine visits Hockey East leader UMass Lowell for a two-game set.
“I wasn’t worried about Connor. He was mentally ready for it,” Barr said. “He has been ready to play for a long time. He took advantage of his opportunity. That’s what we’ve asked all of our players to do.
“It’s good to see him be rewarded. He wasn’t overwhelmed. He nearly fell down behind the net in the first minute but he was pretty darned good after that,” Barr added.
Barr maintains that he has always felt all three goalies were capable of getting the job done.
“I’ve been places where the third goalie was just a practice goalie but that wasn’t the case for Connor,” Barr said. “It was great to see him step up.”
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Androlewicz was born in St. Louis but attended the Holderness School in New Hampshire for two years before playing for the Lewiston-based Maine Nordiques during the 2019-20 season.
He was 8-10-1 with the Nordiques and had a 3.72 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage. He also played nine games for two teams in the United States Hockey League that season.
He was the third goalie behind Ostman and Thiessen last season and never played.
He texted his father, Stephen, Friday night to let him know he would be making his first start on Saturday.
“I was really excited. Like oach said, I’ve waited a long time for this. My dad was super pumped and I was really glad he was able to come up for the game. My dad has done so much for me during my career, “ Androlewicz said.
The goalie said during his time at UMaine, he has done his best to stay ready in case he got the call.
“I don’t like the word ‘deserve.’ But I think I earned it,” he said. “I put myself in position by showing I was ready when they called my name. I had to make sure, no matter what, I was going to be ready.”
Androlewicz will always remember his first win and said he team showed a lot of resiliency to erase a 2-0 deficit and that is something they can take into the rest of the season.
“It showed our team culture and that we can battle back in games. It was good for our program. We showed we can play in tough situations. It was a fun game to be a part of,” he said.