Seniors Eamon O’Brien and Cooper Prawdzik have said Loyola Gold wouldn’t be where it is without senior goalie Matt Choate.
Same goes for the team’s goalie coach, Stu Gould.
Since stepping in for injured senior Andrew Shearson last month, Choate and the Ramblers are 7-1.
In those eight games, he’s allowed nine goals and posted three shutouts, helping Loyola to the Scholastic Hockey League title and an appearance in Friday’s state final against New Trier Green at the United Center in Chicago, where the Ramblers will defend their state championship.
“Choate’s been into it, and he’s really hot,” Gould said. “He’s playing confident.”
A Glenview resident and graduate of St. Francis Xavier in Wilmette, Choate started playing goalie when he was 6 years old because he said he liked the way the equipment looked. He grew to love the position and has remained in front of the net ever since.
“You get more credit than you deserve and more blame than you deserve,” Choate said. “But it’s really fun.”
In his first season with Loyola, not only has excelled on the ice, Choate’s maintained an even temperament under the current circumstances.
“I got a chance, and I’ve tried my best every game,” he said. “That’s all I can do. It’s worked out so far.”
Although Shearson, a second team all-SHL selection, was available to play March 11 in the state semifinals against Providence Catholic, the coaches went with Choate. Both Choate and Gould said Sunday no decision has been made on which goalie will start Friday.
The state final will be the sixth game between the Ramblers and Trevians this season. New Trier holds a 3-2 edge.
“We are lucky to have two really good goaltenders,” Gould said. “Andrew and Matt have been in high-pressure games before, and it doesn’t bother them. You could flip a coin and be happy with whoever plays.”
Gould is grateful to have two talented goalies. Additionally, both of them put the team above themselves.
“That’s what is really cool,” Gould said. “They get along and respect and support each other. That’s awesome to see.”
Choate said his preparation for the state final is the same as it was the season opener when he wasn’t the starter.
“I get myself ready to play every game, whether I will or not,” he said. “If I play, that’s great. If I don’t, then I will support the team the best way I can.”
The Ramblers beat Stevenson 4-2 last season to capture the program’s first state championship since 1996.