STAMFORD—The Trinity Catholic High School boys ice hockey program has faced a number of obstacles as the Crusaders maintain their membership in the FCIAC.
The good news is one issue has been solved this 2018-19 season.
Trinity Catholic has a goalie. For now and the foreseeable future.
Sophomore Jeff Reda has a monopoly on the position. He is the lone goalie on Trinity Catholic’s 13-man roster.
“Being the goalie means you have more control of the game. You can set the tone,” Reda said. “There’s lots of pressure. But that’s the game of hockey. I like that intensity. There’s more satisfaction when you succeed.”
With four games left in the regular season, Trinity Catholic still has hopes of being one of the 16 qualifiers for the Division III state tournament.
The Crusaders are 4-13 overall and 3-7 against Division III opponents and are ranked No. 12 in Division III. There are eight teams below them as Trinity Catholic tries to finish in the Top 16.
Trinity Catholic still has one Division III contest (Norwalk-McMahon) and one Division II game (Trumbull) remaining on its schedule.
The arrival of Reda as a true No. 1 goalie has been three years in the making for Trinity Catholic.
Three years ago, the Crusaders had a converted defenseman Zach Lockwood in net. Last year, the CIAC had goalie Lance Lippmann sit out the opening 10 games before being allowed to play after transferring from Greenwich.
“Coming to Trinity Catholic has been one of the best choices I’ve made,” Reda said. “Trinity Catholic has been great for me in so many ways.”
Reda has played for a number of travel hockey teams before coming to Trinity Catholic. He was with the Westchester Express (AAA), the New Jersey Avalanche (AAA) and NJ Avalanche (AA).
At Trinity Catholic, the 5-foot-7 Reda has been able to work with goalie coach Pete Pinto.
“We work during practices on the ice. Jeff does his own video work,” Pinto said. “Jeff is self-motivated. He came in knowing the basics and the fundamentals. He’s very analytical. He tells us (the coaching staff) what he did wrong most of the time. If he gets scored on, he mentally moves on quickly. Mentally, he’s very strong.”
Reda became passionate about being a goalie from the first time he put on the pads in his youth.
Of course, his favorite goalie is Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
“We talk about Lundqvist a lot. But at his height (6-foot-1), he plays back deep in the net,” Pinto said. “That doesn’t work for us. We want the opponent’s defensemen to shoot from the blue line. We want Jeff to be aggressive. He’s confident handling the puck and being a third defenseman clearing the puck.”
With just 12 skaters, Trinity Catholic plays two forward lines and two defense pairs. Quite naturally, the Crusaders are a tired group in the third period.
“Jeff has a very mature attitude. He doesn’t show his frustration when our group gets tired,” Pinto said. “He realizes it’s a family atmosphere here and all the guys are behind him.”
Reda appreciates all the support he received from Trinity Catholic head coach Tucker Grose and goalie coach Pinto.
“Goalie Pinto helps me technically. He’s helped keep me strong mentally. I’m able to shake off goals and stay calm,” Reda said. “I’ve learned to play to the final buzzer. A 4-0 final is better than relaxing and losing 9-0. What I like most about Henrik Lundqvist is his competitive fire. He never quits.”
Hockey is important to Jeff Reda. But education is more critical.
“Playing college hockey is a future goal of mine,” Reda said. “But good grades are critical. No matter where you go to hockey, you have to bring good grades with you.”