When did you start playing hockey?
I started playing hockey when I was 5 or 6. My older brother tried out for our team, and I decided to give it a shot.
Were you always a goalie?
I started off as a skater. In little league you rotate, and I liked playing goalie. Every time we needed someone to play, I always jumped in there. I wasn’t a full-time goalie until I was 11.
What made you decide to become a goalie?
I liked being the guy who makes a difference every game.
What youth hockey association did you play in?
I played for Marblehead (Mass.) Youth Hockey until I was about 12.
How important is it to play other sports?
I didn’t have a lot of friends that played hockey, so it was nice to spend time with them through the other sports. It helped to get my mind off hockey. You can get burned out when you put so much focus on it when you’re young. Plus it’s good to have that range in abilities.
Best advice you ever got?
My dad would always call and make sure that I was still enjoying the game. If you stop having fun there’s really no point in doing it.
How do you mentally prepare for a game?
We have our skate in the morning to make sure you’re sharp. When we get to the rink at night, I warm up a certain way, do some stretching. I have three racquetball balls that I juggle and throw against the wall to work on my hand-eye coordination, and I take five minutes to do some visualization.
Do you have any superstitions?
I’m not too superstitious, but if you mean routines are superstitions then, yes, I have a few. I have my routine before every game, but it’s not the end of the world if I miss something. Whenever the team scores I always hit my posts a certain way, so I guess that’s the only superstition I have.
What’s the biggest difference between playing in the AHL and NHL?
I would say the skill level. The players are bigger and faster and you have to be a half second quicker and more prepared. Also, most of the shots come from the point and can be tipped so you have to be ready to defend a tip, not just the shot.
How did the NTDP prepare you for where you are now?
I joined for the Under-18 tournament and it helped me figure out how to play against the best, and it was right before the draft so I guess it helped me get to the NHL.
Describe your emotions prior to your first NHL start?
It was a nervous excitement. My heart was in my throat the whole game, but after a few minutes you settle into it and play the game you know how to.
Do you remember your first NHL save?
It was a shot from the point, I don’t remember from whom, in the first couple seconds of the game. I knew they were going to test me to see if I was ready.
Odds & Ends
Playing in Vancouver, have you gotten caught up in the Olympic spirit?
The city is definitely getting ready for it. It’s exciting.
Do you think about playing for the USA in the Olympics?
It’s crossed my mind, but there are other great goalies in the NHL. But you never know what could happen in a year.
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up?
Mike Richter. He was an American goalie who did well in the league. I had a No. 35 jersey growing up with my name on it, and I wore it all the time. That’s part of the reason I wear 35 today, to pay respect to him.
In The Bag
Leg Pads: Vaughn