Hockey goaltenders are renowned for eccentric pre-game routines. Some goalies always dress from left to right; others are silent and unapproachable in the hours before the puck drops. Still others adhere to superstitions so bizarre that they can only be described as cultish.
For Cornell rookie goaltender Ben Scrivens, the less ritual, the better.
“I don’t try to think about the game too much beforehand,” Scrivens said. “I just go out and play.”
Scrivens’ nonchalant attitude might not seem like a traditional approach. However, according to Scrivens, goaltenders can experience problems in the net if the weight of such extraordinary pressure becomes too great to bear.
“If I’m focused too much on the game, I feel like I over-analyze things,” he said. “Everyone has their own way of focusing for a game. For guys like me, it’s staying loose in the locker room.”
Not that Scrivens fails to recognize the importance of concentration in both practices and games. In fact, one of the freshman’s most difficult adjustments to college hockey was the intensity of the practices.
“At the college level, if you’re not playing and working hard in practice, then you’re not going to make it into the lineup [for a game],” Scrivens said. “I had to teach myself to bear down and work hard in every practice, for every shot.”
Recently, Scrivens’ approach to his position has translated into success for the men’s hockey team. The rookie from Spruce Grove, Alberta, has started in the Red’s past three games, posting a 2-1 record and allowing only four goals in that span. In Friday night’s 5-1 victory over then-No. 6 Clarkson, Scrivens saved 26 out of 27 shots.
“Ben had a great weekend,” said assistant coach Scott Garrow. “He played very consistently. I thought he was a bright spot in both games.”
Since relieving sophomore Troy Davenport in Cornell’s 4-2 loss to Colgate on Jan. 25, Scrivens has recorded a .939 save percentage and 1.44 goals against average. For the season, Scrivens has a .908 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average in 10 appearances for the Red.
“I think in the last three games, I have started to get a lot more comfortable in the net,” Scrivens said. “The team has also been playing well in front of me — if I give up a rebound, the defense is boxing out well in front of the net. It’s always nice to get the support in front from your team.”
Even as a rookie, Scrivens’ outgoing personality and likeable demeanor has won him favor from his teammates in the locker room. Still, the goaltender knows when it is appropriate to joke and when it is time to be serious.
“I don’t want to overstep my boundaries as a freshman,” he said. “I just try to have fun with the guys. I know what I have to do to go out and play well.”
Scrivens’ effectiveness of late has not quelled the emerging goaltending controversy for Cornell heading into the final six games of the season. However, according to the coaches and players, confidence in both Scrivens and Davenport is equally high.
“We’re treating the goalies as players — if one is not ready to play, the other guy will go,” Garrow said. “Obviously, right now Ben has put some games together, but we know that they are both able to play and win in big games.”
Whoever gets the start for the Red this weekend at RPI and Union, Scrivens will be eager to help the squad in any way he can — whether it be a clutch save on the ice or an air drum routine in the locker room.
“[Scrivens] is always a friendly guy,” said freshman defenseman Justin Krueger. “It’s always funny being around him. He is never negative.”