This season the Miami Brotherhood welcomes 13 new faces to the program, including 11 freshmen. With so many new players on the roster, the "In the Crease" semimonthly interview series aims to introduce the newcomers to the fans. The third installment of the series is with freshman netminder Jay Williams.
Williams, a McLean, Va. native, has started the last seven games for the RedHawks, including last Saturday when he earned his first career shutout against the Michigan State Spartans. Williams' effort earned him the CCHA Rookie of the Week award. The freshman standout currently has been a work horse for the Red and White, starting nine games in net while playing in 10, posting a record of 6-2-2 while amassing an impressive 2.18 GAA and a .915 save percentage in over 600 minutes of action.
Prior to joining the Brotherhood, Williams played for the Waterloo Black Hawks and the Sioux Fall Stampede of the USHL. Williams also suited up with teammate Sean Kuraly as they guided Team USA to a silver medal finish at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Interview by Chris Rydburg, athletic communications assistant
Chris Rydburg: You are off to a pretty hot start to the year. You were named the CCHA Rookie of the Week and earned your first shutout of the year last Saturday, where has your success come from?
Jay Williams: Obviously it is exciting to get that first shutout you know. I gotta give credit to the team in front of me as Michigan State only managed 13 shots on goal. Right now I am just trying to take it one game at a time and just worry about the next save. I want to do everything I can to be consistent and help our team win night in and night out.
CR: Goaltenders are often times cited as being quirky beings. Do you have any strange pregame rituals or quirks?
JW: I'd like to think I am not that weird (laugh). I don't think I do anything too out of the ordinary. I have my routine that I like to go through when I get to the rink. When I get here I warm up with my tennis balls and after that I tape my sticks. I'll go through some visualization on the bench. After that the team does our stretches and then we get dressed. I guess that's nothing too crazy.
CR: So you don't have any abnormal habits like a certain drink you have to have at the beginning of the game or anything?
JW: Well, I guess it's seven layers on my stick.
JW: I count the layers of tape on my stick when I tape it up. I count that. I don't need a certain drink or anything.
CR: Seven layers of tape seems like a lot. It didn't really help you today as you broke a stick during practice.
JW: Yeah, no it didn't. It was just broken. I guess I have to tape up a new stick.
CR: How many sticks do you usually go through a year?
JW: Generally it is about one a week. I try to have four sticks a week usually. Two are for games and two are for practice. I kind of use one until it's broken through all the way. The one today had two or three big cracks in it.
CR: I suppose that happens a lot when you are facing shots.
JW: Yeah, that is kind of the nature of the beast there.
CR: You guys have already had some experience on the road this year. Who is your roommate and what is that experience like?
JW: I stay with Jimmy Mullin on the road.
CR: Oh man that must be a talkative room.
JW: Oh yeah, there is absolutely no talking in our room (laughing). We have a good time. It's all fun traveling with the guys. Some of the best memories have been spending time together on the bus. You would be surprised about the conversations that come up, maybe even the movies we watch. It's just nice to let loose and hang out with the guys.
CR: You guys have a big road trip coming up to Alaska. Is the team excited about that? Have you ever been up there?
JW: Yeah, we are. Personally, I have never been, but I think the guys are excited. We are a little worried about how cold it is going to be there and what not but I think they are excited. Alaska has been playing pretty well lately so we are excited for that challenge after the break.
CR: You guys have been playing pretty well lately yourselves. Is it a bittersweet break as you currently have a lot of momentum?
JW: Obviously when you are playing well you just want to keep going and playing and keep things rolling. On the other hand, you have guys who are banged up a little and injured, nothing serious, but I think a little bit of time off will be good. We are going to come back refreshed and ready to get back at it.
CR: You grew up in Virginia, a place that a lot of people consider a non-traditional hockey market. How did you get your start in hockey?
JW: I want to say I was eight years old. It was my friend's eighth birthday and he went to a Washington Capitals game and I went with him and ever since then I guess I'd fallen in love. The Capitals blew the other team out like 6-2. The next day I found a pair of old roller blades and crushed up a coke can and hit it around the garage. It's been history ever since then.
CR: What was the interview process like coming here and trying out? Was it a fun process or stressful one?
JW: Looking back I would say it is a fun process. I had my first visit here during the summer when I was 16. I got to sit across from Coach Blasi and I saw all the banners hanging up so it was a bit intimidating at first. I was a bit shy, you know, but looking back it's pretty neat to have gone through it.
CR: Looking back and I guess forwards as well, are you surprised at all about this young team's start to the season and where do you see you guys going?
JW: You know, no. Actually, I didn't really know what to expect as college hockey was always on this pedestal for me. The coaches all had faith in us and they did a great job in the preseason getting us ready to play. Once you get those first couple of games under your belt you feel adjusted. After that it's just the next game, and the next game, and the next game, and try to keep things rolling.
CR: Thanks Jay, have a good break.
JW: Thanks, you too.
Fans can engage in the series as well by submitting questions for any of the newcomers to Chris Rydburg at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will then work them into his interview with that player in an installment of In the Crease.