Isaac Gravelle of the U16 AAA Southern Tier Admirals understands that the mistakes he makes on the ice usually end with the puck behind him and he embraces the challenge.
“I like the pressure,” said the 16-year-old, who adds that the “mental part of the game” is the toughest part of his position.
He’s handled that well this season for the Admirals, recording seven shutouts with a 1.57 goals-against average in 26 games.
Learning to carry that weight is something Gravelle has worked hard at with Admirals coach Kevin Roseburgh, himself a former goaltender. The two have had “a lot of discussions about how you handle yourself and the difficulties that you’re going to face moving forward.”
Over the past two years they’ve spent together, Gravelle “has come a long way, just getting more mature and growing,” said the coach. “We've been in these positions a lot where he's been under a lot of pressure in big-game situations and he's performed.”
In the moments when things haven’t gone his way, Gravelle has created a routine to re-centre himself and channel his emotions.
“I squirt water in my face, then I go for a little skate,” he explained. “Just got to calm myself down and stay focused.”
Roseburgh noted that while Gravelle is great on the ice, it’s his off-ice intangibles that really make him a high-level player. In December, for instance, Gravelle was invited to the Ontario’s evaluation camp for the Canada Winter Games and when he didn’t make the club, he focused on the positives he could take from the experience.
“I feel like it’s going to push me to the next level, just to be better than the kids that made it,” he said.
That outlook is one of the reasons Roseburgh will remember Gravelle for far more than his on-ice play.
“The thing I'll take away when I'm done with them here, not how great of a goalie he is, because he is one of the elite goalies probably in the province, but he's also just such an elite person.”
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Daniel Ramos is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College.