No Experience Necessary: With Raiders, Everyone’s a Candidate for Goalie Duties

  • Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge junior goaltender Kayleigh Trietsch heads to the ice for the third period of the Raiders’ NHIAA Division I girls hockey game against Pinkerton Academy on Thursday at Akerstrom Arena in Meriden. Trietsch is the latest in a long line of Raiders who have learned the job on the fly despite having limited or no prior goaltending experience.

  • Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge junior goaltender Kayleigh Trietsch watches first-period action behind her net during an NHIAA Division I girls hockey game with Pinkerton Academy at Akerstrom Arena in Meriden, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Trietsch, a first-year goaltender, made 11 saves in the Raiders’ 8-6 loss. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Pinkerton Academy’s Brittany Decosmo, right, jams a puck past Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge goaltender Kayleigh Trietsch (1) for a first-period goal during the teams’ NHIAA Division I girls hockey game at Akerstrom Arena in Meriden, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls hockey assistant coach Bob Maccioli, left, talks strategy with junior goaltender Kayleigh Trietsch during the first intermission of the Raiders’ game with Pinkerton Academy on Thursday at Akerstrom Arena in Meriden. Maccioli, who played hockey at Stevens High in the late 1980s and who has coached goaltenders for 16 years, is part of a Raider staff that’s been teaching Trietsch the position from scratch.

  • Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge defenseman Paige Hoegler (17) offers encouragement to goaltender Kayleigh Trietsch (1) during a break in first-period action in the Raiders’ NHIAA Division I girls hockey game with Pinkerton Academy at Akerstrom Arena in Meriden, N.H., on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2019. Hoegler, a Kearsarge freshman, has tended net for a few games this season but has largely left the job to Trietsch to give the Raiders extra depth at defense. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Friday, January 11, 2019

Meriden — Lebanon-Stevens-Kearsarge girls hockey coach Brad Shaw usually dresses for a game in a warm jacket, slacks, a button-down shirt and a maroon tie. There are times a laboratory coat, goggles and latex gloves might be more appropriate.

Every season for Shaw seems to turn into a goalie lab at some point. If a young netminder should find her way through an Upper Valley youth hockey program, she somehow rarely ends up a Raider, opting for a prep school or another option instead.

So, season after season, for a decade now, Shaw and his experienced assistant coaches go back to the lab … or rink, as it were. They identify a candidate — it’s Lebanon High junior Kayleigh Trietsch this winter — and sets about giving her the foundation for stopping the flying rubber discs that are about to come her way.

“We’ve had two or three over the years that have gone right at the last minute to a private school,” Shaw said on Thursday night after the Raiders dropped an 8-6 decision to Pinkerton Academy at KUA’s Akerstrom Arena. “We’ve had to make one every year.”

Despite all his experience in manufacturing goalies, Shaw has no secret recipe from which he works.

“You grab somebody that’s willing to do it (and) you give them as much training as you can,” Shaw said. “But it’s not a position in varsity hockey that you just close the door with someone who’s never been playing for years.”

Lebanon’s second-year cooperative with Stevens High and the new added union with Kearsarge High have given the Raiders rare roster depth this winter. They were also supposed to provide an experienced netminder in Stevens senior Adrianna Maccioli, but repeated knee injuries — the most recent in preseason — have prevented Maccioli from ever donning a Lebanon jersey.

Shaw was able to convince Trietsch to give netminding a try in the preseason. The junior has taken a liking to the role.

“I thought it would be really interesting to see a new point of view, but when you’re a skater, there’s all these different positions; goalie is totally different,” Trietsch said on Thursday after an 11-save night in net. “You use all sorts of different muscles, stopping pucks. You’re on the ice the whole time. It’s really different.”

And the lessons never end.

From the start, Trietsch has had to learn to stay in her goalie stance facing a would-be shooter for as long as possible, if for no other reason than the knowledge that it’s not easy getting back up from the ice in a ton of goalie gear. Now that she’s almost two months into the season, Trietsch has become better at getting up and down, moving fluidly from post to post, steering shots to the corners with her leg pads and snuffing waist-high pucks in her midsection without leaving a rebound.

“We were obviously psyched; nobody else really wanted to step up,” Shaw said. “It takes a special person to stand in the net and have people rip pucks at you.”

Kearsarge freshman defenseman Paige Hoegler also has given goaltending for the Raiders a try this winter, with good results. She’s been in and out of the net over a youth career that has involved four different organizations, but her preference is to skate out. So, she and her fellow LSK blueliners concentrate on making Trietsch’s job as easy as possible.

“We keep the puck away from her,” Hoegler said. “Sometimes, when she drops, she thinks she has it — it’s happened to me before — and it went in the net. Very upsetting, but that’s OK. When she doesn’t have it, it’s communicating to her, working with her and just being her defensemaen. My main goal is to get it away from her, but I kind of want some pucks shot on her. That way, she does get the experience.”

Aside from learning the position, there’s the inevitable equipment issue as well. Shaw’s many opportunities to build a goalie have left him with a trove of used gear from which to outfit his netminders. He also has the mentoring and equipment help of assistant coach Bob Maccioli; a Stevens High hockey goalie back in the late 1980s, Maccioli has two goaltenders in the family — Adrianna and Stevens freshman son Kaleb, currently minding the crease for a Vermont Bantam AAA team — and that’s led to another stash of gloves, masks and pads for would-be Raider puck-stoppers to use.

“Kayleigh has been an extremely quick study,” Maccioli said in a phone interview on Friday. “She’s moved better in a month than a lot of goalie do, after a couple of years, who have never skated before. The fact that she’s been a skater and could skate made it much easier for her to pick up goalie skating techniques.”

Maccioli reported rapid progress from the Raiders’ latest newcomer to the net. Trietsch sees it as well.

“Bob’s amazing; he’s so good at what he does,” Trietsch said. “I’m so glad to have him. He really helps with anything. Any question I have, he answers it.

“He was saying I was doing really well for just starting. He was telling me things I needed to do like staying up in the crease, because I’m falling back too much, and how I need to stay in my stance.”

Despite the constant rotation of new-to-the-net Raiders, Shaw’s teams rarely fail to make the NHIAA Division I state tournament. Eleven squads from this winter’s 16-team league will qualify next month; Thursday’s loss left LSK (2-5-0) in a three-way tie for the last two tourney bids with more than half of the schedule still remaining. Trietsch and her team have plenty of time to learn and grown.

“I definitely am really into it,” Trietsch said. “I would probably get my own pads and gloves. I really like playing goalie.”

That, ultimately, will be music to Shaw’s ears. If all goes well and his latest experiment succeeds, the longtime Lebanon coach will have something next winter he rarely sees: a returning goaltender with prior experience — and maybe her own gear.

“I’ve never had a goalie that came in with their own pads,” Shaw pointed out. “It’s unheard of in varsity hockey.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.