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Senior goalie Aaron Alkema won his sixth-straight start on Saturday against Rutgers. He's given up just six goals in that span.

Hockey: Alkema looks to be go-to-goalie down the stretch

Alkema has grasped the lead goaltender role for the Bobcats and hasn't looked back.

For a player who gets frozen rubber shot at him, junior goalie Aaron Alkema can’t stand it when a puck actually doesn’t hit him.

Throughout the season — in practice and games — Alkema has occasionally been visibly displeased when a puck gets by him, sometimes firing the puck down the ice in frustration, angry at himself for letting in a goal.

But maybe being too hard on himself has paid off.

The Ohio goaltender is 15-4 on the season, posting a Goals Against Average (G.A.A.) of 2.08 including four shutouts.

“The difference between last year and this year is that he’s a lot mentally tougher,” Ohio coach Sean Hogan said. “He’s matured in that regard, in that he’ll bounce back if a goal went in that he thought he could’ve had.”

The four shutouts put Alkema tied for third in that category on the American Collegiate Hockey Association leaderboard and near the top of the list in G.A.A of goalies who've played 20-plus games this season. 

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With his impressive season thus far, Alkema has essentially earned the No. 1 goalie position — even if Hogan and Alkema won’t say the exact phrase “number one goalie”

“I don’t know if I’d consider myself ‘The Guy,’ but you try to keep working hard,” Alkema said. “If I’m in the net going to the (Central States Collegiate Hockey League) playoffs and then nationals, then the pressure is more from myself than anything.”

Whatever kind of “guy” Alkema has been this season, the Bobcats have assuredly loved his production thus far.

Playing in 20 of the 30 games for Ohio this season, “Aces," as he is known by coaches and teammates, has been the go-to goalie for Hogan this season in big games. He's started in all seven of the Bobcats' games since the new year.

“Right now, he’s the guy that’s getting the most ice time, and the guy we have the most faith in,” Hogan said. “He needs to earn it everyday, and we like our chances with him in the net.”

The season began with Alkema and junior goalie Ryan Heltion getting the chance to win the job coming out of preseason practice. Alkema got the shutout win on Ohio’s opening night against John Carroll back in September and since then, hasn’t looked back.

“Coming into the season, it was ‘work hard, and put yourself in a position to succeed,’ and that’s the same thing right now,” Alkema said.

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Putting up consistent stats in a season that Alkema hopes ends up in a banner hanging above the ice at Bird Arena, he never could have seen OU in his future.

“I actually didn’t know much about the school,” Alkema said when looking for schools. “I was looking to change scenery, I wasn’t happy with where I was at, they had an opening for a goaltending position here, and I actually transferred in halfway through the year (from Belle Tire Midget Major junior team) for Spring Semester.”

Alkema’s decision paid off.

He's played 20-plus games in back-to-back seasons for the Bobcats, who always rank near the top of the list in ACHA goaltenders.

Standing at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Alkema is routinely one of, if not the biggest player on the ice.

“Just with my size, I don’t have to be quite as aggressive,” Alkema said. “I can focus more on position than skating, and taking up as much of the net as possible.”

With under a month until the CSCHL playoffs, Alkema will look to begin hitting his groove and meet the high expectations the Bobcats have placed on themselves.

“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that we can do something special here this year,” Alkema said. “The goal is to win the national championship.”


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