After backstopping Colorado College to two ties with top-ranked Denver, the comments grew louder - where did this Alex Leclerc guy come from?
The Tigers’ sophomore goaltender wasn’t listening.
“You don’t overthink anything,” Leclerc said. “You just keep going.”
Longueuil, Quebec, native Leclerc is talkative and polite, often smiling and quick to deflect praise onto his teammates, who have indeed been better in front of him. No switch flips when “Clarky” steps out onto the ice, according to Cole Josefchak, who has been his teammate since they played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
But his tireless preparation has produced results.
“He’s happy in general, but in his game, he’s chasing perfection and excellence,” coach Mike Haviland said. “He has that never-say-die attitude and that’s what really attracted us to him. Even in practice, there are times where I have to go, ‘You may want to take a break,’ and he just doesn’t want to do it.
“He’s always trying to better himself, and I think you’re seeing the benefits this year."
Leclerc was the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Goaltender of the Week earlier this month. He’s tied for second in the conference in wins behind Denver’s Tanner Jaillet, and fourth in save percentage at .918.
“A great goalie can make a sick team well in a hurry,” said Frank Serratore, coach of Friday night’s opponent, Air Force. “It’s great to see him get back on his game because they’ve gotta have that.”
Haviland said Leclerc is always seeking out extra film to go over. Last year’s game against Air Force may be tough to see again.
Air Force’s Matt Koch beat Leclerc with a bouncing shot from well behind his own blue line to kick off four unanswered Falcons goals. The Tigers briefly got within one in the third period, but before Westin Michaud’s goal could be announced, Air Force had beaten Leclerc again and snuffed out the comeback attempt. The final score was 6-3.
Leclerc has been looking forward to this rematch.
“Last year against Air Force, we didn’t have the results that we wanted, especially me personally,” Leclerc said. “I want those goals back. I want every goal back.
“This weekend we’ll have that chip on our shoulders, especially the returners. We’ve been telling the new guys, it’s important. We need that (win). It’s not a choice, it’s a need.”
Air Force hosts Colorado College with the Pikes Peak Trophy on the line. In the home team’s net, Billy Christopoulos seeks better support from a finally healthy lineup. On the other side of the ice, in all likelihood, will be an underclassman who’s starting to turn heads.
“I don’t root against the Tigers unless they’re playing against us,” Serratore said. “I hope (Leclerc) is off his game Friday night.”