Tripp Tracy is unorthodox.
Tripp Tracy is flamboyant.
Tripp Tracy is brutally honest.
Tripp Tracy is fiercely competitive.
Guess what? Tripp Tracy has the starting goaltending job for the Harvard men's hockey team all to himself.
And at whatever whistle-stops the Crimson road show pauses to entertain on the way to the NCAA Championship in Providence will be pretty hard not to notice.
How many other netminders, in the NHL or otherwise, have you seen that looked like he could use a leash binding him to his own crossbar?
His style? "Flip-flop, all over the place" --these are Tracy's own words of definition. For some goalies, the edge of the crease is an iron cage, never to be violated or penetrated from either direction: "Jonathan Livingston Tracy" is liberated by the white ice outside of that blue semicircle of bondage, and at times watching him can be a heart-stopping exercise.
"It sort of evolved over time," Tracy says of his methods of puck-stopping madness. "I've worked extensively with [ex-NHL goalie] Dave Tstarin, and from a very young age he taught me to attack the puck very aggressively. The goalie he always used as an example was Grant Fuhr--the shot comes in and BOOM! he attacks."
Actually, Tracy plans to tone down the excesses of such a system this year.
"This year, I feel a little more comfortable--I think I'm quick enough so that I don't need to come out as far to stop the puck," he says. "I'm still getting a feel fore letting the puck come to me and not forcing things, but with time that will come."
Such a feeling will come more quickly in the top-dog system that Coach Ronn Tomassoni will use this year for the first time; senior Steve Hermsdorf remains a step below Tracy within the goaltending hierarchy.
If Tracy's style maybe needs to be reined in, his voracious appetite for competition shall be unleashed for probably as many games as he wants--with apologies to Glenn Robinson, that's called letting the big dog eat, as it were.
"[This year is] a big challenge for me," Tracy acknowledges. "Growing up, for some reason there was always another goalie I was rotating with, so I've never been in a one-goalie situation.
"I've known a lot of youth players who got all the ice-time for themselves," he adds, "but because that's never happened for me before, I really look upon this year as a great individual opportunity."