When the National Hockey League held the Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights back in 2017, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was selected due to his elite skill, leadership, and experience.
The Long Island University Men’s Ice Hockey team did the same thing when they recruited 24-year old netminder Garrett Metcalf to join their first-year program.
Metcalf reigns from Salt Lake City, Utah, and had played collegiately at UMass Lowel and Mercyhurst University before making his way to Long Island.
The 6’2 goaltender owns a 2-4 record on the year, with a 3.18 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage. He has done what he can and more to keep his team in games against elite programs.
“It’s been really special,” said Metcalf in an interview with NYI Hockey Now about joining the first-year program. “It’s one of the things that stuck out to me when coming here. It was something that I was excited to be a part of.”
With COVID-19, Metcalf had not been able to explore Long Island just yet but has enjoyed one aspect, and that’s the food.
“I have friends that are from New York, and they always talked about how good the bagels were and I didn’t really believe them until I ate the bagel for like the tenth time, and I realized that, man, the bagels are pretty amazing out here,” said Garrett.
“It’s super cool being right next to the ocean, and obviously having the city right there too. I think in a normal circumstance in a normal year you would get to visit that, experience that a little more. But for what we have and what we are given, it’s been super cool, and I’m super excited to be here.”
Building relationships with teammates is something that usually takes time for a new club. But even with the coronavirus hindering the ability to go out with teammates and bond, Metcalf owes a lot of credit to his head coach Brett Riley for the work he has done.
“First, I think the coach did a great job of getting us all together,” Metcalf said. “A lot of us didn’t know each other previously. We did zoom calls over the summer. We got acclimated really fast and started to build a bond and a relationship that’s obviously shown on the ice.”
Having a reliable goaltender like Metcalf between the pipes has been crucial to the team’s success and growth thus far.
“It helps that 75 to 85 percent of our team has not played at this level or in this capacity. So to have that backbone and stability has been crucial,” said Coach Riley. “He’s been challenged by two other very good goalies too, which drives our goaltending culture as a whole. The outings and performance that Garrett’s given us so far has given us a chance to win every night, which, as a coach, is all that you can ask for.”
As this season has progressed, Metcalf found his way onto the Mike Richter Watchlist, a list full of elite netminders recognized by the Hockey Commissioner’s Association.
While he feels great about the accomplishment, Metcalf turned the attention away from himself and onto his team.
“It’s obviously a great feeling,” he said. “And there’s a lot of elite goalies on that list and a lot of elite goalies that have won the award. It’s funny. I was telling coach the other day, although my name sits next to the watch list, I think that’s really a team accolade.”
“I think that we pride ourselves on doing well defensively and letting that bleed into the offensive zone and scoring goals. But that starts in the d-zone. I think that’s just a testament to how good we’ve been in the defensive zone. I’m happy to represent our team in that category.”
Metcalf’s leadership on and off the ice has inspired his teammates, no matter their college status.
“He’s always one of the first guys at the rink, he’s one of the last guys there.” graduate student, defenseman Mat Harris said. “He’s always willing to stay out on the ice after practice. Anything you want to work on, he’s willing to work on it. The mindset he brings to the rink every day is something that’s really rubbed off on myself, and I think the rest of the guys in the room.
“Anything you want to work on, he’s willing to work on it. The mindset he brings to the rink every day is something that’s really rubbed off on myself, and I think the rest of the guys in the room.”
Metcalf has also learned a lot from his teammates, particularly Harris.
“I think sometimes I’m a little too serious, especially when it comes to practice days”, Metcalf said. “Harry (Mat Harris) keeps the mood light and keeps me focused, but in a good way.
“You know just learning to have fun with the game.”