ASTON — Conestoga’s Malcolm Roeder didn’t let the fact that he’s a freshman stop him from fighting for the starting job as goaltender for the Pioneers’ hockey team.
Even though he faced upperclassmen netminders in junior Luke Turner and senior Luke Robbins for the spot, Roeder started a game in late November and hasn’t looked back since.
“It has been great,” he said. “I really like this team and like the way I’ve been playing lately.”
Conestoga faced a tough Ridley team without a few of its key players Thursday night at IceWorks, opening the door for the Raiders to throw 52 shots at the freshman goaltender in a 5-0 loss.
“Last year with one of my teams, I did face about this many shots, but it has been a while since then,” Roeder said. “It was a little bit of a wake-up.”
Up to that point, the most shots Roeder had faced this season was 36 exactly a month before in an 8-8 tie against Garnet Valley.
“It’s pretty hard to fight through the whole game,” Roeder said. “When you’re just getting peppered like that, you get pretty tired.”
Despite the loss, Conestoga played an overall decent game against the No. 2 team in the Central Conference.
In fact, it took until the second period before Ridley scored.
“They did a good job tonight,” said Conestoga head coach Mike Graves. “We were missing a handful of guys like we were against Haverford High. (Ridley is) a very, very good team and we knew that coming in. We’re happy with the effort. We gave up 50 shots and only five goals, so it was a decent job.”
Conestoga was not only out-shot the entire game, but was kept under six shots in each period while Ridley had 15 or more in each frame.
In spite of the onslaught of shots, Roeder stopped each one until the 34th shot over halfway through the game.
“He stood big in there,” Graves said. “He’s a competitor and he’s up for the challenge. (Ridley) has the top goalie in the league as far as numbers go and I think he was eager to compete against him. Despite the score, when you face 50 shots, that’s pretty significant. He still saved 90 percent of them. Even as a freshman, I think he’s pretty seasoned already. He’s not easily rattled and is ready for that type of challenge.”
The loss was only the second one Roeder has had in the nine games he has played in.
He currently holds the best stats out of the three Conestoga goaltenders with his 3.35 goals-against average and a 0.889 save percentage.
“(Roeder) came in and earned the starting job and we’ve had a good competition between him and Luke Turner this year,” Graves said. “Malcolm is playing pretty well right now, so we’re going with him. That’s the way it is. It doesn’t matter that he’s a freshman.”
With one game left in the regular season against a non-conference opponent, Conestoga sits one point ahead of Haverford High in the North Division.
Haverford, however, has a conference game as its last matchup, leaving Conestoga to sit back and watch its fate of finishing first or second in the division for the Central Conference playoffs.
“We practice on Thursdays and we’ve had two of these snow makeup games on Thursdays, so I’m hoping to get back to a regular week of practice and hopefully get some people back from injury and from sickness,” Graves said. “We’ve had a different roster every game, so we have players we need as a forward in a game or on defense in a game. We’re just trying to get a little continuity hopefully this week with one game left and carry it into the playoffs and see what happens.”