Harvard men's hockey goalie Grant Blair lay on the ice after a St. Lawrence slapshot slammed his mask into his face.
John Devin knew his time had come.
"When I saw the blood, I got my helmet," the freshman back-up goalie said after the game.
Despite a 1-0 deficit and the unexpected nature of his ECAC debut. Devin played a remarkable game, turning away 29 St. Lawrence shots and propelling the Crimson to a 4-3 victory.
"I was kind of nervous, but I just tried to concentrate," he recalls. "A kid broke in all alone, but I got my left-pad on the shot and that really helped boost my confidence."
Though his appearances on the ice have been sporadic, he has played extremely well in every contest but the Western Ontario game in which he gave up one tally and made just three saves. He was the winning goalie in the Crimson's victory over Boston College in the Beanpot consolation game, recording 23 stops. Overall, against ECAC opponents he has compiled a 93 percent save percentage.
"When called upon, he's done an outstanding job," Coach Bill Cleary says. "He's a good athlete and a fighter."
One of the main reasons Devin has had such success coming off the bench is that he has no complaints about sitting on the pine.
"The coaches talked to me about Blair before I came here," he says. "I didn't come in looking to be a starting goalie."
Throughout the season, Devin has used both his playing and practice time to improve his netminding style.
"Most left-handed goalies have awkward styles and I'm no different," he says. "I'm trying to become a stand-up goalie and work on playing the angles. It helps to have someone like Grant to learn from and I'm trying to incorporate his strengths to fit my game."
The Thayer resident is hoping that two years down the road when Blair graduates, he'll be ready to fill in for him full time. But if he doesn't become the Crimson's starting goalie, he'll take that in stride.
"If I don't deserve to start, then it's my own fault," he says. "I'll be disappointed with myself for not performing as well as I think I can."
When the hockey season comes to a close, Devin is considering playing baseball. As a senior, he played both left and centerfield, batted .420 and was named a Boston Globe All-Scholastic.
For now through, the 18-year-old is concentrating on hockey and even when he's not on the ice, he is invaluable to the team as the man responsible for opening the gate during line changes.
"Every once in a while though," he says with a smile, "I have to warn the guys that I might come down with a case of 'gate-elbow.'"
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