NORTH CALDWELL, NJ -- Sometimes the impact of a player can go well beyond just the stat line in a game. The same could be said for the backbone of the West Essex ice hockey team Jason Albrecht.
“I always want to be in my best shape and just be a good teammate to my teammates and make sure we’re doing the right thing on the ice and have a good attitude towards games and practice,” Albrecht said.
As the team’s goaltender, Albrecht has consistently found ways to stifle opposing offenses. To date, the senior has posted an astronomical 356 saves on the season, which includes eight games of 25 saves or more.
“I feel like if you don’t get a lot of shots at the beginning of the game you get a little rusty and you haven’t warmed up since the beginning of the game so it takes a toll on getting into the game…it’s kind of hard to get back into a rhythm,” said Albrecht.
While not an official captain of the squad, Albrecht is undoubtedly a leader of the squad. He has bestowed his years of knowledge onto the youth of the team while keeping a positive outlook on what at times seemed like a bleak season.
“I feel like I just bring a good attitude to the ice ever yday, cheer everyone up, get everyone ready, get everyone amped to practice and if they’re having a bad practice to get them out of that slump so that they’re playing their hardest when the games happen,” Albrecht said.
The team-first attitude from Albrecht was on display in what he described as his favorite game of the season against Montville. In the game, Albrecht collected 30 saves in helping the Knights squeak out a 4-3 victory.
“My team really stepped up in front of me we played really well, I played really well in net, there was a penalty shot [which] was my first ever, so I had to calm myself down and block all the sounds around me,” Albrecht said.
On a 10-10-3 squad that has been Jekyll and Hyde in its play, the senior is asked to protect a slim one-goal lead. Some might fold under the pressure of doing so, but Albrecht has mastered the art of performing under pressure.
“When I go to the bench I try to take water or get a breather to come myself down,” said Albrecht.
Albrecht noted that he hopes to pursue a degree in digital media at the collegiate level next year. Despite the games winding down on his high school career he still hopes to make these last few weeks count.
“I just want to make this [year] special and play my hardest to make sure everything is on point,” said Albrecht.
As the final few games draw closer, Albrecht hopes that the Knights can make a Cinderella like run in the state playoffs to give him and the other seniors a proper sendoff. The 10th-seeded Knights will look to pursue a state championship in the Public B State Tournament in the upcoming week when they take on Livingston in the first round of the bracket.
“I want the team to go far in states, so I can extend the season instead of ending it early I’d love to do that,” said Albrecht.