It was an incredibly strong year for goaltenders in the National Collegiate Development Conference. Consider that the top 14 goaltenders in goals against average combined for 28 shutouts on the season. Six goalies played more than 2,000 minutes (i.e. 35 games or more) in a 48-or 49-game season.
So, the NCDC coaches had a tough job on their hands when selecting the 2021-22 Goaltender Of The Year, which just makes Mitchell Day’s win of this year’s award even more outstanding. In a season of staggering stoppers, Day managed to lead the way in save percentage (.930), minutes (2,562), saves (1,419) and even shootout wins (seven, three more than anyone else).
“I am honored to be recognized. It means a lot to me,” said Day, upon learning of the award. “With that being said, I would like to thank my coaching staff Clint Edinger and Frank Golden for giving me the opportunity and having confidence in my game.”
Day, a 2002-born goaltender, joined the Monarchs out of Kirkwood, Mo. He is a product of the St. Louis AAA Blues program, putting together several youth and Midget years with them, splitting some of those seasons with the Kiriwood High School team. The Monarchs brought him into the program as their 18U goaltender during the fractured 2020-21 season, and then he made the progression up the ladder to NCDC.
Being a goaltender is never an easy position - people are constantly pelting you with vulcanized rubber, and some of these shots are hard. And many of the people doing this to you have never even met you, so what do they have against you?
“As a goalie, you have to be very mentally tough and how I approach it is trying not to sweat the small stuff, staying even keel and mainly staying positive and confident about the outcome of the game and most importantly my own game,” Day added.
He wasn’t master of the NCDC universe off the bat. Day was average at 3-3-1-0 through Oct. 24. Then it just all came together. At the Fall Beantown Classic over Halloween weekend, he won all three games and then racked up another couple after that for his first of three winning streaks of at least five games. His second came between Nov. 20 and Dec. 13. He closed the season with his best streak of seven wins between Feb. 24. And he only lost once in his final 12 games of the year, from Feb. 5 onwards. At 5-feet-10-inches, he’s not an imposing figure in depth, but he’s always utilized everything he has.
“As a smaller goaltender, you have to make up for your size with speed and depth control,” Day said. “I believe I am a very aggressive goalie which means that I have to compete at all times.”
Together with the Monarchs defensemen, he helped the team to a 2.75 goals against average, second best in the league.
“Our team has played outstanding defensively in front of me. This helps me stay confident with my decisions because I know the guys will be there to bail me out if I make a mistake,” said Day.
The Monarchs, as of Friday, March 18, were the first and so far only team to make it out of the first round of playoffs. They swept the South Shore Kings, 2-0, and now await the winner of a Boston Junior Bruins vs. Twin City Thunder that sees the Thunder hold a 1-0 lead. One of these three teams will represent the North Division in the Dineen Cup Final, to be held over the April 1-3 weekend. Day sees no reason that the Monarchs shouldn’t be in the final series, with the way they’re playing right now.
“We have a good team,” he added. “We play great offensively and defensively, and if we continue to play confident there is nothing that I would change.”
The USPHL congratulates Mitchell Day on his NCDC Goaltender Of The Year Award!