When Providence forwards came racing in on goal for three separate first period breakaways Friday night, the calmest person on the ice might have been Boston College goaltender Joseph Woll.
He stopped all three, making the saves look effortless, ultimately stopping 27 shots on the evening to lead the Eagles to a 3-1 win over one of their Hockey East rivals.
“Our goalie was so strong the first two periods. He was square to every puck. He was rock solid. He keeps very calm in there. His angles were perfect. He doesn’t make any saves look acrobatic or difficult,” said BC associate head coach Greg Brown, who has been guiding the Eagles in the absence of head coach Jerry York.
The poise and confidence Woll possesses in the crease has caught the attention of his teammates as well.
“It’s huge, especially a freshman coming in here, doing what he’s done so far. It’s crazy the confidence you have to have. It’s unbelievable. He really competes. You love playing in front of a goalie like that,” said BC senior captain Chris Calnan.
Woll, who played for the U.S. National Team Development Program the past two seasons, credits the program’s goaltending coach, Kevin Reiter, for helping in that aspect of his game.
“He definitely helped calm me down in net. Going out with him on the ice every day was a great resource. He’s the best coach that has helped me along the way.”
A native of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., Woll emphasized the importance of the high level of competition the NTDP faced in terms of his development and ability to jump into the fray right away in college hockey.
“It’s definitely huge. To be able to experience that speed and how fast the game goes last year was great. It has made the transition a lot easier,” said Woll.
In addition to the stiff competition he faced from opposing teams, he also was challenged by his teammate, current Boston University freshman Jake Oettinger, who is considered a top prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft.
“[Oettinger] is one of my best friends. It was great having him at the program with me. I got really close with him. To have him out there and know he was going to work hard, I had to work harder everyday. It really helped push me,” Woll explained.
Woll, a second round selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2016 NHL Draft, stands tall in net. At 6-feet-4, he covers a lot of ground in net, but he’s also athletic enough that he plays a bit of a hybrid style.
“I try to incorporate what an athletic goalie and a blocking goalie would do, and try to find the balance between the two. I want to set my angles and try to make saves look easy by being in the right position. I also want to make the big athletic saves when my team needs me,” Woll explained.
Woll is one of 13 freshmen on the Boston College roster. Despite such a large class, Woll says the group has jelled quickly.
“The freshman class is awesome. I love all the guys. We’re really close already. It’s definitely an advantage we have,” said Woll.
Having to fill the skates of so many talented players who left early for the NHL is not an easy task. However, at a program like BC, expectations always include trophies.
“I’m just trying to take it one game at a time and play my best every game. We want to win the Hockey East Championship and work towards the Frozen Four. Those goals are down the line,” said Woll, whose Eagles head north for a pair against the University of Maine this weekend.