Flemming the calm in the eye of the storm
AMHERST?- Few positions in all of sport are more pressure packed than that of a goaltender in hockey.
A hockey team's fortunes can rise and fall on the play of their goaltender.
To be successful in the position an individual must be the calm in the eye of the storm and that's why the Ramblers Andrew Flemming is one of the most successful goaltenders in the MJAHL.
"He has a great personality to play goalie," Rambler coach Corey Crocker said. "He's so calm, confident and patient in his ability to play the position."
The 19-year old goaltender from Quispamsis, N.B., is in his second year with the Ramblers and can't imagine playing anywhere else in the league.
"I don't think there's any other place to play junior A hockey," Flemming said. "There's an atmosphere in Amherst that no other city in the league can offer."
The opportunity to play in Amherst isn't something Flemming has taken for granted.
"Coach Crocker gave me the opportunity to play here and I took advantage of it," Flemming said. "He's a player's coach. He has a great understanding of how to deal with players. He knows when to be strict and he knows when to be easier on the guys."
Flemming also looks to backup goaltender, Patrick O'Brien, for support.
"Paddy and I are great friends. We used to drive to school together last year, so we got to know each other pretty well," the Mount Allison University student said. "We are very supportive of one another. I'd like to think, other than our girlfriends and our families, we are each others number one fans."
He also points to the players in front of him as a great source of inspiration, including Brent Lynch, Matt Squires, Andrew Oakley, Adam Chipman and Andrew Shears.
Flemming has been playing in goal for about 10 years now.
"I started out playing forward and thought myself a goal scorer but obviously I wasn't that good or I would have stuck with it," Flemming said. "But when I got in the net something must have kept me there. There's a whole different feeling stopping pucks."
Flemming enjoys playing the pivotal position, but says the key to success is not to let the pressure get to you.
"There's only pressure if you make it out to be bigger than it is," he said. "It's important not to over think things. You have to simplify it and realize you have to do the same things no matter what's at stake."
What if the game is on the line and he has an opponent coming in on a breakaway?
"Personally, I like to encourage myself to be patient and focus on the puck. If I go much further than that, I start thinking, 'am I doing this right, am I doing that right,' and I start to hesitate and I start making mistakes," Flemming said.
"When I do my best it's when I'm thinking as little as possible, I focus on the puck and let the shooter make his move before I make mine, not the other way around."
Like any athlete, Flemming says he sometimes loses focus.
"I try to keep the same mind set, but everyone has there off nights. My off nights are when I let a bad goal or a chirping fan affect me, but I do my best to just ignore it and focus on stopping the puck."
Crocker hopes Flemming will be focusing on stopping the puck in Amherst for a while yet.
"Andrew is a coaches dream. His leadership qualities and his teamwork qualities are exceptional," Crocker said. "He's probably the most sportsman like player on and off the ice I've ever seen. I can't say enough about his demeanor."