Monday, March 18, 2013
Four Years In Four Minutes For Maris
(Photo from UNDSports.com)
Back in November when I talked to University of North Dakota's goalie coach Karl Goehring about third-string goalie Tate Maris, I asked about whether or not we would see a "Rudy" situation with Maris getting into a late season game.
When chuckling about the notion of it, Goehring replied: "Not my call, but try to make sure we take care of Tate as much we can because we really appreciate what he does."
And that's what UND did on Sunday. With 4:08 remaining in a 5-0 game-- which would be the clinching game for UND over Michigan Tech-- head coach Dave Hakstol pulled Clarke Saunders and put Maris in-- his first regular season action in his four years at UND. While he only made one save, he shared a shut-out with Saunders in the game, the first for UND since 2003 when Jordan Parise and Jake Brandt recorded on against Yale.
"Easy decision," said Hakstol when asked about putting Maris in. "Tate means an awful lot to the guys in the locker room and a lot to the program. He's earned more than four minutes in his career. He's important in our locker room, he's a leader, and you can see how hard the guys played in front of him how much he means to the program."
While Maris is more known for his wit on the UND web-show Brad Miller Time, as well as his musical career-- the hard-work and upbeat attitude has made him a fan favorite and a favorite of his teammates in the room.
"You can't put a price on a guy like Tate Maris and what he does. He shows up to work everyday, loves being a part of the team, and has the most diffcult role on the team. When guys see his positive attitude and his approach, it rubs off on everybody," said Goehring in November.
As a walk-on to the team, Maris had the uphill battle-- especially for not playing in the 2008-09 season. He was suited up for five games in his freshman year of 2009-10, but didn't make an appearace. In fact, he didn't see any game action until his junior year of the 2011-12 season, stopping all six shots in an exhibiton against the Russian Red Stars. A smaller goalie at 5'9 also had Maris some disadvantage trying to get his spot and playing time from Aaron Dell and Brad Eidsness for his first three years, then Saunders and Zane Gothberg this season.
But Maris kept at it. He focused on his accounting major and was named to the WCHA All-Academic Team all four seasons. Also in his freshman year, Maris won UND's Most Improved Player award. As mentioned, it seemed his wit and joking manner provided an upbeat attitude for him. So much so that he is quite the follow on Twitter (where he documented UND getting stuck in Summit, South Dakota and talked about going to play goalie for University of Phoenix).
After the game, he got his first ever media scrum.
"It's indescribable. I'm kind of at a lost for words now. Four years pushed into four minutes, it's pretty surreal, to say the least" said Maris. "I tried to block them (the fans) out and try not to let it get into my head, but it was pretty exciting. I was very thankful for that."
When asked about if he was concerned having forward and Hobey Baker Award hopeful Corban Knight on defense, Maris quipped, "I was extremely worried. I was battling to help Knighter through the year."
Knight tried to turned the tables, asking Maris about bobbling his shot, "There was a huge screen in front of me, guy about 6'7-- but I fought the screen, fought the rebound to get the whistle and get a rest for guys like you."
Through and through, with hard work and determination and pretty much not letting anything get him down, Maris got a four-minute stint that will probably last a lifetime to him, those there, and to his teammates who saw four years culminate into one small stint.
"As a player it's awesome, as a friend it puts a lump in your throat to seeing that guy like him go in. He's one of the best teammates you could ask for" Knight said. "When he came in, it definitely gave everyone goosebumps on the bench and on the ice."
It was the last home game for Maris, one of the last in the WCHA for UND; Maris did get his save-- having his career GAA at 0.00 and his save percentage at 1.000%; a great stat line for a guy who wasn't sure if he was going to record any.
Towards the end of his scrum, Maris asked the inevitable question many first-timers seem to ask, "Am I doing a good job?? I'm new to this."
By the love that UND fans and those associated with the organization gave to him during his appearance-- I'd say he was doing just fine.
Quotes and stats provided by UNDSports.com and SID Jayson Hajdu.