A LOOK AT: STARS’ NETMINDER DAN BLACK

Scott’s profile is the very affable Dan Black, goaltender for the St. Thomas Stars

A Look At: Stars’ Netminder Dan Black – by C. Scott Holland

No matter with which Junior B team a player is a member, the hardest position to play may well be that of a goaltender, yet sophomore goalie Dan Black of the St. Thomas Stars has accepted his duties and strives to improve himself.

Although he is somewhat small for a goalie at 5’8″ the 180 lbs. netminder makes up for it with his style of play. He began his Junior B career by playing just over one period of hockey for Strathroy in 2013/14.

He became the spare goalie for the St. Thomas Stars last season.

While the 19 year-old only played 16 contests last season, he has been alternating with veteran Nikolas Dampier during the current campaign. In 9 appearances, so far, he’s won six and lost only two with a 3.15 gaa.

While he knows the Stars 2015/16 squad is not as young as last season he realizes that many of the players, himself included, are “giving it an extra shot” since most are in the second year with the franchise.

“I feel really good with the goaltending situation. I know what games I am going to start.” Along with splitting the netminding duties with Dampier, Black feels, “more comfortable; I’m not trying to make a big impression like last season …I’m having fun stopping pucks and I’m confident in my ability and the pattern of games I’m playing.”

He notes that the friendship among Stars’ players in the dressing room as well as on and off the ice has grown immensely. “We’re really good buddies and we’ve gotten to know each other.” His rapport with fellow goalie Nik Dampier is shown via their conversations with each other; they help each other out especially when it comes to their on-ice performances.

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Black finds it a pleasure to support the city and “help around the community; I enjoy giving back immensely.”

As to the difference between last season and the current one, he admits it is only a slight one. He said, “It’s a weird concept because in many ways we aren’t that different but we have had many off-ice changes – a new coaching staff.” However he has noticed that while there is still a large group of players back from last season improvement has shown. “Guys like (Spencer) Hutchinson and myself have improved in the off-season. We’ve become stronger and honed some of our skills.”

Since November has begun, Black said that Hutchinson and himself are growing mustaches for Movember and trying to get all the players involved in raising money for the “good cause.”

Playing at a higher level has meant playing in front of larger crowds and having more responsibility yet Black has easily accepted the change. Large crowds in arenas like Sarnia and St. Thomas’ Timkin Centre don’t bother him. “I’ve adjusted. You don’t think about it much; you just go out and play your game.”

Growing up and watching the Stars and London Nationals rivalry has left its impression on him. However he doesn’t let the rivalry affect how he plays. “They beat us bad in one game and we’ve beaten them too. We’ve beaten them before, so we know we can go out there and do it.”

As well, Dan Black realizes that every hockey game can be different. “Who knows what’s going to happen? Every team in this conference can score and the way it’s bunched up, so competitive, it’s tight. Teams can jump up or down a spot with a win or a loss. It’s highly competitive.”

Despite the West Conference’s fierce, competitive nature, Black only worries about how he performs every single game. It’s evident that Black and his teammates are “driven every single moment on the ice to play at (their) best.”

With such positive attitudes and plenty of friends to help and support him, the road to success is heading in the correct direction.

C. Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington with his wife Susan.
He can be reached at: cttocsh1@yahoo.ca.

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