“I remember it was such a nice day, I had the windows down. I was thinking, ‘this is going to be a good game,’” Nick Maringola said.
“I was taping my stick (at Wesleyan), chatting with the Xavier coach.”
Anthony Giusto, Cheshire’s coach, drove himself that day, too.
“I usually get there an hour and a half before the game,” Giusto said. “Nick was already there going through his warmup. I came to find out he was there two hours before the game.”
All he did that day was make 60 saves against Farmington Valley, one of the top teams in Division II with a couple of the most talented forwards in the state.
That was a 2-0 loss for the Rams; it was that kind of year offensively, especially after injuries hit after midseason, and the Rams went 8-11-2. But Maringola was a rock in net, and he’s the GameTimeCT Player of the Year.
Facing more shots, even with less experience in front of him, Maringola raised his save percentage to .939 in his senior year from .931 in his junior year.
His preparation was a big reason why.
“It took me a couple of years to get my pregame ritual down,” Maringola said. “I’m a big believer that if you put in the effort, good things will come out of it. I come to the rink, get a sweat in before I go on the ice, get ready mentally and physically.”
That started to click last year, he said, and he felt calm in games.
Maringola joined the team in his sophomore year, splitting time and playing to a .910 save percentage. Giusto had heard about him and had met him even earlier and knew what he had coming.
The dedication and work ethic stood out, though.
“After you get 40-50 shots in a varsity game, the next day, the last thing you want to do is see pucks coming at you. But he’s right back in there,” Giusto said.
“Other coaches have commented to me on how he prepares, how he focuses and the effort he puts forward on the ice.” And the effort, in turn, pushes his teammates to get better, Giusto said.
Maringola found his way to the net somewhat randomly as a young hockey player.
“One of the parents walked in with goalie gear and said ‘who wants to be goalie?’ I said ‘me!’” Maringola said. “I think I had the pads on the wrong legs that day. I was a mess.”
This past summer, he worked hard in Newington with Pro Crease Goaltending, being patient, anticipating shots better and being calm in goal. During the season, he credited Giusto and assistant coach Anthony Carbone with designing drills and running practices that pushed him to get better.
He made at least 50 saves four times this season and was chosen Division II Player of the Year by the state’s coaches. He faced a school-record 807 shots and stopped 758 of them.
Cheshire scored 41 goals in 21 games this year. But the team scored 20 of those goals in the first five games.
When the Rams scored more than once, they were 8-3. In the 10 games in which they failed to score two, Maringola helped steal them a couple of points.
“A lot of times before games he’d come up to me and mention three or four of the opposing team’s players,” Giusto said.
“You don’t find that in a lot of kids in high schoool. He’s definitely a student of the game.”
Maringola wants to play in college, and he’ll play junior hockey next year for the Eastern Hockey League’s New Hampshire Avalanche.
“One of the big reasons I decided on the New Hampshire Avalanche is the’ve gotten kids onto the radar of those schools as well as the coaches,” Maringola said. “The organization’s very good at developing players on and off the ice.”
Maringola seems to have had a pretty good start since the days he had his pads on the wrong legs.
“From my standpoint, and I’ve said it as many times as I possibly could, Nick’s a great kid, a hard-working kid,” Giusto said. “I wish I had more kids like him.”