Fox is the force between the pipes
VAIL – When Battle Mountain goalie Foster Fox steps on the ice, he knows exactly what kind of mindset he needs to stop the puck.”Some guys like to go out there angry, and some like to go out there relaxed,” Fox said. “I like to go out confident. I like to be the most cocky guy out there on the ice. If I’m like that, I’m unbeatable.”While Fox can be beaten, it has been harder to solve him as this year has progressed.After playing one game his sophomore year, the junior goalie skated into the starting spot at the beginning of the season.”He had never really played high school hockey, and then he was our No. 1 guy, so he was a little rattled, and I’m sure a little nervous. But he’s gotten stronger and stronger,” said coach Gary Defina.Sure, his confidence may have something to do with it, but Defina is more impressed with Fox’s work ethic.”He’s the first one on the ice and the last one off every time we skate,” Defina said. “He wants it so bad – he really wants to improve.”
In the second half of the season, the puck hasn’t made its way in the Battle Mountain net that much.”I’m seeing the puck a bit better and trying to control the rebounds a bit more,” Fox said. “I’ve worked really hard on my angles.”Defina has seen that work pay off.”When he’s on his game, like any good goaltender, he’s big on his angles,” Defina said. “At the beginning of the year, he was moving too much, but now he’s set on his angles and everything is hitting him. That’s the mark of a good goalie – when the pucks are hitting you and you aren’t having to make spectacular saves.”Through the eyesBefore making the permanent shift to goalie, Fox spent some time out of the net as a Pee Wee.”I could have either been the third goalie, or a skater, so I decided to skate. It was more fun,” Fox said.While having fun, Fox was likely doing himself a future favor, getting to see the game from the eyes of a shooter.Now, he’s looking at things from the other end. So when a 2-on-1 comes, he knows just what to do.”The blueline comes, I see one defensman got beat. The other defensman will take one guy or the passing lane. I usually like him to take the passing lane, and the shooter is usually selfish and he’ll shoot. I like to come out hard, because I’m a bit smaller. I shake my glove a bit because I’m real confident, and they know they are going to have a heck of a time getting it past me,” Fox said.
Fox likes to back up the mentality with his actions early on in the game. “If you make big saves on them early, they think they’ll have to make the extra pass,” Fox said. “In the first period, I want to make those big saves and get into their heads.”Other position players may not put as much thought into their game, but then again, they don’t have as much time alone to think about things.”He’s kind of in his own little world in his crease area back there,” said Battle Mountain’s Derek Byron. “I think he starts talking to himself.”In the blowout games, Fox admits it can be tough to maintain focus, but he’s got his motivations and methods.”If I ever let my mind stumble, I’ll get my mind back in it real quick. A breakaway can happen, a 2-on-1. You’ve gotta have your head in it,” Fox said.”I’ll remember some songs, hum a song, or bang on the posts a bit to make I’ve got my angles down.”Getting over itControlling rebounds may be difficult, but rebounding from a goal is just as taxing.Fortunately for the Huskies, Fox seems to be quite adroit at both.
“He usually swallows his rebounds or hands it off to the defense,” Defina said. “The other night (against Rampart) he gave up a goal with 50 seconds left in the game, and it went into overtime. In the first shift of overtime, he made a great save, and we went back down and scored.””After I let one in, I get a swig of water and forget it, because if you dwell on that, you’ll let another one in, and it’s like quick sand,” Fox said. And it helps when you have some encouragement from the rest of the team”As soon as I let (the goal against Rampart) in, they said, ‘We’ll just win this in overtime.'”But Fox knows that his position carries a lot of pressure.”You’re either the goat or you get the glory,” Fox said.Fox and the Huskies will be going for glory this weekend at the Frozen Four in Colorado Springs. Today at 7:15 p.m., the Huskies face Peak to Peak at World Arena.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado