MIDDLETOWN — It’s been 701 days since the last time a Cheshire goalie other than Nick Maringola started a game for the Rams.
The senior, who started the majority of games as a sophomore, sat out the final game of that season on senior day.
He’s started every game since.
His Iron Man streak currently sits at 36 straight games in net, including Saturday’s 1-1 overtime tie with North Haven.
“It is tough and you have to think about how to take care of your body off the ice, obviously,” Maringola said. “On the ice, our coach is very big on: If you work hard in practice, that’s how you win your playing time.”
Practice actually is the one time when coach Anthony Giusto tells his goalie to rest.
“He’ll get 50 shots in a game and, the next day in practice, I tell him to take it easy,” Giusto said. “He will take one net over the entire practice and he’ll get another 200 shots in practice. He’s the kind of kid that wants to be in the net. He wants the competition.
“I think it’s a testament to how he prepares and the way he gets ready for the games.”
Despite being the Rams’ No. 1 one goaltender, Maringola isn’t taking his spot for granted.
“I have to come in and work for my spot,” he said.
Last season, Maringola led a senior-laden defensive team to a 16-5-1 record. He posted a 1.68 goals-against average and stopped 93 percent of shots, leading the Rams to the Division II quarterfinals.
The senior specializes in not only allowing a few pucks past him, but also coming up big in close games. Of the 16 wins last year, 13 of them saw Maringola allowed two goals or less.
“We have that luxury that we know if we can get one or two goals we have a real good chance to win,” Giusto said. “If we put up five goals in a game, about 99% of the time we will win with Nick in net.”
The Rams’ are 7-5-1 this season and, out of those seven wins, five have come by one goal. Maringola has allowed one or two goals in five wins this season.
“I want those guys to not be so worried about how much defensive responsibility they have,” Maringola said. “Scoring a lot of goals puts you in the win column. I want to do my part and my part is defense and goaltending and they can do their part, which is just scoring goals.”
While last season’s team had an experienced defensive group, which allowed Maringola some easy nights, this season’s team is young, still gelling and some nights Maringola sees a ton of rubber.
He has seen over 50 shots in a handful of games this season, including wins over Lyman Hall, Sheehan and a loss to WMRP.
“It really helps our team,” senior defenseman Kyle Bajor said. “We know we can rely on him in the defensive zone, so we are able to break out the puck more and we’re able to take offensive risks.”
It’s been nine seasons since the Rams last won a state title, a 3-1 victory over Guilford in the 2011 Division II state final.
With Maringola in net the Rams have a shot against any team in the state.
“He’s given us a chance every single night to win games,” Giusto said.
CHESHIRE 1, NORTH HAVEN 1 (OT)
CHESHIRE 0 1 0 0 – 1
NORTH HAVEN 0 0 1 0 – 1
Records: Cheshire 7-5-1, North Haven 6-4-3. Goals: C – Niklas Vasiljevs, NH – Tom Guidone. Assists: C – Michael Donato, NH – Jake Hines, Donald Funaro. Saves: C – Nicholas Maringola 28, NH – Andrew Sacco 31.