In this week’s installment of 10 Questions With…, goaltender JP Withington (West Haven, CT) sits down to discuss what’s up next for him in his hockey career.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: After a stellar junior season (17-4, 1.97 GAA, All-State Honors) you made the decision to come back for your senior year at West Haven. Why did you decide to stay?
JP WITHINGTON: I decided to stay for my senior year because I felt like I came up short. The loss in the first round of the tournament as the number one seed was the worst feeling of my hockey career. I also knew that the standout forward Tim Baylis was on his way out and I couldn’t leave my teammates hanging.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: You are the latest in a long line of All-State goaltenders to play at West Haven (Ron Baia, Mark Heffernan, Jason Szerszen, Eric Carmody, Bob Serenson – just to name a few). Did you ever feel any pressure to live up to the “expectations” of playing goal for the Blue Devils?
JP WITHINGTON: There was a lot of pressure playing for a team with a goaltending history such as West Haven. I grew up watching Heffernan and Baia hoping that one day I’d get a shot to be like them. I was lucky enough to have two years as the starter and I had to live up to the standards they set every time I stepped on the ice.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What are your biggest strengths as a goaltender?
JP WITHINGTON: Besides my size, the strongest part of my game is the mental aspect. No matter what the situation may be you can’t get flustered. When you get scored on you have to have a short term memory and be able to forget about it.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: Who were some of the top players you faced this year at West Haven?
Jim Burt (Hamden) – he has the ability to get a hard accurate shot off from just about anywhere in the zone. He set up his linemates whenever he saw the opportunity and back-checked as hard as he forechecked.
CJ Carignan (Hamden) – CJ was always in the corners, he was very physical and always a threat to put the puck in the net. CJ always stood out for his aggressiveness on the penalty kill and forced numerous short-handed opportunities because of hard work.
Brandon Martone (Notre Dame-West Haven) – he was always in front of the net. When he planted himself on top of the crease he wasn’t moving. He picked up the garbage and was the most physical player I’ve played against.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: You recently attended a prospect showcase camp for the Central Canada Junior Hockey League in Ontario, Canada. How was that?
JP WITHINGTON: The showcase for the Central Canadian Hockey League was a great experience. It was extremely fast paced and the skill level was unbelievable. I’m going back July 1-3 to try out for the Cornwall Colts and I also got asked to try out by a few other teams in the league: Smiths Falls, Cumberland and Nepean.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What professional (or college) goaltender do you pattern your playing style after?
JP WITHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist, I style my play after Henrik because he is about the same size as me and he works out of the butterfly. He is always extremely calm and rarely shows any emotion on the ice. When on his game he is one of the best goalies in the NHL.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: Who has had the biggest influence on your hockey career to date and why?
JP WITHINGTON: My father was without a doubt the biggest influence on my hockey career. He never played the game but he always pushed me to get better and be the best goalie I could be. He congratulates me when I am playing well and makes sure I know when I’m not. He gives up a lot of time and money so that I can play and continue to get better.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What do you think is the hardest part about being a goaltender?
JP WITHINGTON: The hardest part of being a goalie is the fact that you never go unnoticed. When you are playing well and winning you will get a lot of the credit, but on the other end when you’re not playing well you catch most of the blame. The goaltender is the only player who can determine the outcome of a game which is why it’s the hardest position in sports.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: What advice do you have for other young netminders coming up that want to take their game to the next level?
JP WITHINGTON: Every time you step on the ice you have to take advantage of it and work hard on every aspect of the game. Off ice training plays a huge part as you get older in preventing injuries and making you a better goaltender. Besides the hard work you want to avoid showing your frustration on the ice, you lose your concentration and your play will suffer.
NUTMEG HOCKEY: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JP WITHINGTON: Every hockey player hopes to be in the NHL, but I hope to be graduated from a good school with a major in criminal justice, while still playing a competitive level of hockey.
BONUS QUESTION – Tim Thomas’ hit on Henrik Sedin in the Finals: Cheap shot or fair play?
JP WITHINGTON: It was a fair play. Sedin tried lifting Thomas’ stick while he was in the crease so Thomas put a body on him. I liked it and I think everyone who wasn’t a Canuck fan did too.
Thanks, JP. Best of luck to you next year.
|THE WITHINGTON FILE|
TEAM: West Haven Blue Devils
STATS: 12-7-2, 3.10 GAA, 3 SO