Ice Hockey

Trip to North Dakota - Day Three

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, March 10, 2001

Saturday, March 10 – In the flatlands of Bottineau, N.D., where the terrain is so level that locals claim you can watch your dog run away for three days, Hudson Valley Community College goaltender B.J. Sheehan spent 60 minutes scaling a personal mountain today.

Speaking of ascents, this time a year ago, Sheehan also was working with ice. He wasn't tending goal, however; he was serving customers at Mr. Smoothies in Crossgates Mall. After graduating from Albany Academy, where he was the starting goalie on a squad that won the 1998 New England Prep School championship, Sheehan took some time off from school.

Now, just 12 months later, Sheehan, a Schenectady native, has gone from wearing an apron and serving up frosty drinks to starting between the pipes in the opening game of the 2000-01 junior college national hockey championship.

"I've never been to a national tournament before," the freshman said before protecting the net at Bottineau's Community Arena, nicknamed the Lumberdome. "This is the biggest moment of my life."

Sheehan played like it. He turned aside 48 shots in all, leading the Vikings to a decisive 5-2 victory. During a seven-minute stretch in the second period, he stonewalled a Bottineau power play for seven straight minutes.

"B.J. earned the right to start this game," head coach Ron Kuhl said. "He's played well, he played two big games for us against Mohawk Valley and Morrisville. I have a lot of confidence in him."

So much confidence, in fact, that Sheehan started while NJCAA Region III Player of the Year Jason Vasco watched from the bench tonight. Vasco will start in game two, at 7 p.m. Sunday.

"I told them after we won regionals that they'd each earned the right to start a game in nationals," Kuhl said. "They're both great goalies."

Sheehan was beaming in the locker room after the victory. "This is what I was hoping for," he said. "To come back, get in shape and be ready for the big game. I think I took advantage of my opportunity. I shined. We all did. And this chance took a long time to get here, but I'm really happy it finally did."

"B.J. played the perfect goaltender's game," Kuhl said. Sheehan will be on the bench Sunday night, probably still riding the high of success, and supporting his teammates.

"I'm proud of my while team," Sheehan said. "And I know Jason Vasco will come out tomorrow night and do the same thing I did."