Petersen Hits The Road In Pursuit Of Hockey Dream

When Cal Petersen’s school day ended in sixth grade, he didn’t head home like many of his classmates. 

Rather, he had a three-hour drive ahead of him. And that was just one way.

Such was life for the Waterloo, Iowa native throughout middle school when he traveled from his hometown to play with the AAA Wisconsin Fire (two years) and AAA Madison Capitols (one year). 

“It was definitely a big sacrifice,” said Petersen, who recently received the Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year Award from USA Hockey. 

“We were presented with the opportunity and kind of jumped off the deep end a little bit. …We found a way to make it work, though.”


Position: Goalie 

Shoots: Right 

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 172 pounds 

Birth Date: Oct. 19, 1994 

Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa 

College: University of 
Notre Dame 

USA Hockey History: A member of the 2013 U.S. Junior Select Team. Played in the 2012 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. Also a member of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka tournament. 

Eating, naps, studying — it all took place on the road. Petersen’s parents stipulated that they were not going to commit time, money and energy unless he was fully committed to the game.

While parents’ sacrifices for their sons and daughters, especially long-distance driving and flights, is fairly common in the hockey community, the six-hour round trip for a standard weekday practice certainly falls outside the norm. 

During his sophomore and junior year in high school, Petersen headed to the Windy City to play for the AAA Chicago Young Americans before officially joining
the Waterloo
Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League in 2012.  

In the last two years, Petersen amassed a 51-19-5 mark with a 2.74 goals-against average to go along with five shutouts. The 51 wins is a Black Hawks record during their existence as a Junior club. In 2014, Petersen led Waterloo to a USHL regular season title and a berth in the Clark Cup Finals. 

Despite his steady career progression, Petersen said that it was not until he played for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament that he finally realized he belonged alongside some of the best American players.

“That was the first time that I solidified myself,” said Petersen, a 2013 NHL Entry Draft selection by the Buffalo Sabres. “I realized that I could be an elite goaltender and be one of the best goaltenders in the nation. That confidence boost really helped me.”

A self-proclaimed “student of the goaltending position,” Petersen watches a wide array of netminders during the NHL season and has specifically incorporated pieces of a few goaltenders’ tendencies into his own game, including the Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask and the N.Y. Rangers Henrik Lundqvist.

In mid-July, Petersen’s hockey odyssey took him to South Bend, Ind., where he spent much of the summer training with his University of Notre Dame teammates in preparation for the 2014-15 campaign. He said head coach Jeff Jackson’s resume and experience coupled with an easier transition from Notre Dame to the professional ranks only justified his career decision even more.

“Notre Dame is going to be in Hockey East and that is arguably the best conference in college hockey,” Petersen said. “I’ll have an opportunity to get playing time right away and battle for a No. 1 position. That’s what I really want.”



Youth Star

Harber Cassel
Age: 9
Longwood, Fla.

When Harber Cassel was born, doctors thought he would never walk. Years later, the 9-year-old is defying all odds as he not only walks but also plays hockey, which he so dearly loves. 

Since attending a USA Hockey sponsored ‘Try Hockey for Free Day’ in Daytona Beach a few years ago, the young goaltender has been a fixture between the pipes.

Now a member of the Orlando Junior Knights in the Florida Amateur Hockey League, Harber was born with a muscular condition that still forces him to have regular check-ups with a urologist as well as an endocrinologist. As a result, his mother, Jennifer, closely monitors him both on and off the ice. 

“I was a little apprehensive at first,” Jennifer admits. “I’m a protective mom. Now, I couldn’t be happier that he is playing the game he loves.”

Despite the regular doctor’s appointments and weekly speech therapy sessions, Harber maintains a pretty normal lifestyle, one that includes a heavy diet of playing with his 2-year-old half brother, watching television and, of course, playing hockey.

Photos courtesy of United States Hockey League; Lara Anne Photography


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