I believe in Josh Thorimbert. Scott Owens believes in Thorimbert. And, most importantly, Thorimbert believes in Thorimbert.
“Absolutely,” Thorimbert said this week before Colorado College hockey practice at World Arena. “This year hasn’t gone the way I wanted, but I have confidence in myself that I can turn this around and I can get back to the level where I was last year.”
Colorado College is looking for ways to end a 14-game nightmare. The Tigers have won only twice (both against No. 6 North Dakota) since Nov. 10 in a baffling free fall.
Still, there’s reason for hope. The primary reason CC fans can cling to optimism is Thorimbert, a junior goaltender. If he can return to the stingy, confident style of his sophomore season, the Tigers can arise and repair this wreck of a season.
Owens was talking this week about Thorimbert at his best.
“He sees the puck really well,” Owens said. “He’s really calm and cool under pressure. He’s sucking in rebounds. He makes the game look really simple and doesn’t give up any questionable or soft goals. He’s very workmanlike and calm. That’s his strength.”
But Owens and the Tigers have seldom seen Thorimbert at his best this season.
Thorimbert’s save percentage is .875, a disturbingly low number that explains his 4-7-1 record. (Denver’s Juho Olkinuora, a native of Finland, boasts a .942 save percentage and 7-1-4 record.)
The normally unflappable Thorimbert sometimes looks flustered and nervous under pressure. He allows soft goals. He’s not been himself, or even close to himself.
“It’s a disappointment,” he said. “You know, that’s not how I want to play for the guys and that’s a disappointment to me. I need to be better than that.”
Owens served as the Tigers' No. 1 goaltender 1978-79. He knows the perils of the job. He also knows a talented goaltender when he sees one. He’s an unabashed fan of Thorimbert’s game.
He sees problems, but he’s convinced those problems can be fixed.
“It’s not like it’s all gone,” Owens said. “In some ways there are similarities to our team. There’s a good piece to his game and there are good pieces to our game but it isn’t consistent or complete enough. Josh is very, very capable of doing a little bit more.”
“I think he’s close. I don’t think he’s far away. That’s why we continue to be bullish on him. It’s not like his game is a mess. There are just some pieces that have to get straightened out.”
It’s been a long season, for the Tigers and for Thorimbert. He struggled Saturday at North Dakota, allowing four goals in CC’s loss. But he also showed flashes. He was often brilliant in the second period, making sprawling, dazzling saves that brought back memories of better times.
He’s never endured a slump like this before, he said.
“I haven’t, no. I think that’s kind of the learning curve of my life right now. I need to learn to deal with this because I’ve never had a part of me go like this.”
I believe in him. I believe his slump, a lengthy one, will soon end.
Owens shares my optimism, and he would not mind at all if Thorimbert suddenly rediscovers his potential this weekend when the Tigers tangle with Minnesota-Duluth.