PHILADELPHIA — Germantown Academy ice hockey’s Head Coach John Fields knew that their Jan. 10 game against Springside Chestnut Hill Academy would be a close one. The Patriots were coming off of a 5-2 victory the day before and were on the road to face the Devils, who are a rival team. Even knowing this, Fields called the 2-1 victory against SCHA, “too close for comfort.”
“They have a good team,” Fields said. “They came out and skated well. They hung in there. We hit a bunch of posts, but their goalie played well and their team played well. I’m very happy with the effort today.”
Although Fields was lauding SCHA’s net minder, the same could have been said for his own goalkeeper, William Gross ’21. While the Germantown Academy offense was firing shots trying to increase their lead, Gross was between the pipes fending off counter attacks.
The Patriots scored in with 21 seconds left in the first period thanks to a goal from Mark Dobson ’20, but would not find the back of the net again until Andre Miao ’18 scored with 11:59 in the third period. It was between those two marks that Gross was needed the most.
“Liam has gotten stronger and stronger each game,” Fields said. “He’s really getting comfortable and finding himself at the varsity level. As a freshman and the only goalie, there’s a lot of pressure, but he’s really finding his way and he made a couple great saves tonight to keep us in it.”
To Gross, “pressure” was not the word used. The young goalkeeper finds the situation he is in as “fun.”
“The team’s really supportive,” Gross said. “They always support me even if I let in a goal, they always tap me on the pads and let me know I’m doing great. They make it a really easy ride.”
That easy ride got a bit tougher with 5:46 in the third period when GA suffered a five-minute penalty. For almost the rest of the game the Patriots had to compete down a player.
With such a disadvantage, a team could start to panic or get away from their gameplan. That never occurred to the Patriots or their goalie.
“I just had to dial in,” Gross said. “I told myself, ‘make sure nothing stupid happens and stop every puck you can.'”
The freshman did stop every puck that he could, but he did allow one to sneak in with 4:39 left in the game. After that, nothing got past Gross and the Patriots came away with their third win of the season.
After starting out the season by giving up eight goals to Pope John XXIII, Gross has only given up three goals in as many games. Included in that span is an 11-0 shutout win over Pennington School. Fields sees Gross’ current level of play as just the tip of the iceberg.
“The key that we’ve been talking about is just his effort,” Fields said. “Just come out, keep working hard and give it that effort every night. I see a diamond in the rough right there and I’m glad we’ve got him for four years. That’s for sure.”
0:21 – Goal – Mark Dobson
11:59 – Goal – Andrew Miao (assist M. Dobson, assist T. Landmesser)