Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Petersen Finds His Stride Between the Pipes

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Junior Bryce Petersen has been starting in goal for the North Haven boys’ ice hockey squad and already has a pair of shutouts to his credit this season. Photo courtesy of Bryce Petersen

Junior Bryce Petersen has been starting in goal for the North Haven boys’ ice hockey squad and already has a pair of shutouts to his credit this season. (Photo courtesy of Bryce Petersen)

When he first put on his goalie equipment, Bryce Petersen just wanted to look like a Transformer. However, after spending a little time in the mask and pads, Bryce realized that he had found his home in the goalkeeper’s crease.

Bryce is a junior goalie on the North Haven boys’ ice hockey team. Bryce recently made his first career varsity start and notched a shutout in net for the Nighthawks.

Bryce grew up in a hockey family to say the least. Bryce’s father Rob played the sport and coached him growing up, his brother Alex competed alongside him, and his cousin Dalton Luciani played hockey for Amity. On top of that, Bryce’s sister Olivia was an ice skater.

Bryce’s dad and his mother Randi were always driving him to practice and doing whatever they could to assist his hockey career. His grandmother Sue and grandfather Dwight, whom his family calls “Winky,” always bought Bryce new sticks.

Bryce was introduced hockey by his family, and it was their encouragement that got him on the ice.

“We always had something to talk about, especially if we haven’t seen each other in a while,” says Bryce. “Even at this year’s Christmas, we just talked about Christmas and the new season coming up and how excited we were.”

At the age of three, Bryce started playing hockey for the Greater New Haven Warriors mite development team. He then played for the Yale Youth Bulldogs from squirts to bantams before attending high school. By playing as much hockey as he did, Bryce found that the sport gave him a safe place and was a great way to make friends while improving his athleticism.

“It always gave me something to have in my free space. It always helped me cool down after a tough day,” Bryce says. “It obviously helped me athletically, and I was able to make a couple friends just from playing.”

When Bryce started playing hockey, everyone on his team had an opportunity to try out the goalkeeper’s position. Bryce’s turn came, and he liked how he looked big and tough like a Transformer after donning the equipment. However, after spending a few years at the position, Bryce decided that he wanted to taking being a goalie more seriously.

“I loved it from the very first moment. After that point, I was just goalie every single time,” says Bryce. “From pee wees to bantams, I just showed up and played. I didn’t do anything else. I did the minimum. I realized if I wanted to do something with goalie, I had to do more. It’s like extra credit in school. I started doing stretches and strength workouts. I started doing a workout regimen with Brian Holloway,” the head trainer at Choate.

During his freshman and sophomore years, Bryce sat behind All-State goalie Andrew Sacco and current senior Jared Anderson. Bryce took notes from the goalies in front of him and did his best to improve. When Bryce was a sophomore, North Haven won the SCC-SWC Division II Tournament. Sacco was starting in goal, but Bryce felt happy to be a part of the team while learning a lot from a keeper who played in plenty of big games.

“Jared and I really clicked. I would watch Sacco and practice and see what he did. We compared each other’s games, and I saw what he did differently than me,” Bryce says. “It really helped me take more mental notes, and it really helped me.”

On Dec. 18, Bryce made his first varsity start in goal when North Haven hosted New Milford. Bryce stopped all 22 shots that came his way to record both his first varsity victory and shutout in a 6-0 win for the Nighthawks.

“It was a little euphoric. I thought it was a little overdue. I really wanted that start,” says Bryce. “It felt like, finally, I can get this monkey off of my back. Finally, as a junior, I made my first start.”

Bryce turned in a repeat performance by notching another shutout when North Haven claimed a 3-0 win over Glastonbury on Jan. 5. Bryce says that it wasn’t just him who earned the shutout in both of those wins. In the New Milford game, the Green Wave had a few 5-on-3 power-play opportunities, but Bryce’s teammates blocked numerous shots that never even made it to him in the net. Bryce calls his Nighthawks’ teammates his brothers and knows that it always takes a complete effort from everyone to win a hockey game.

Bryce always feels honored to represent his hometown when he takes the ice for North Haven. Bryce loves hearing the roar of the student section as he’s making saves and then going to school the next day to talk about the Nighthawks’ victory.

“It lets me represent North Haven. I love being able to do something I love in front of my friends and family,” Bryce says. “Then I also have the benefits of the student section and being able to go to school and talk to friends about the team. It’s really fun.”


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