Steady between the pipes: Finck excels in senior season for Blue JaysCarissa Finck had finished a game in net when she was approached by new Jamestown girls hockey coach Brad Schaack.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Carissa Finck had finished a game in net when she was approached by new Jamestown girls hockey coach Brad Schaack.
The net was on the soccer field, and Schaack was there watching his daughter Amber. The two were already familiar with each other because of youth hockey, but Brad Schaack found something in Finck that nobody else in his position had seen.
“I could definitely see the potential,” remembered Schaack, who was looking for a goalie for the next season. “You’ve got to have that (goalie) mentality.”
A short interview on the pitch turned into a long high school career in which Finck has become one of the state’s top goaltenders. She has three shutouts this season and has allowed just one goal in eight of her games. She has an impressive 2.31 goals-against average and a 91.5 save percentage.
But her ability to stop the puck hasn’t been the only part of her game that’s grown. Rebounding mentally after letting a goal slip by is an area with which she’s particularly proud.
“I know how to deal with it if I get scored on,” said Finck, who has been starting since she was a freshman though she split time as a sophomore. “The girls used to tell me that it was going to be OK and I’d think, ‘What did I do wrong and how can I fix it?’ Now, I know how to fix it and not get down on myself.”
It’s all part of the potential Schaack identified on the field, and he said when he asked her about playing goalie, she jumped at the opportunity. During those junior high years, she had been playing forward on the ice.
“I don’t think I had the words out of my mouth and she said yes,” Schaack recalled. “They needed me to coach and we needed a goalie. Carissa was the obvious choice.”
Finck doesn’t deny that excitement, but kept her true feelings from her future coach.
“I think I was excited, but I was hesitant about it,” Finck said. “I didn’t think I wanted to do it. … At first, I didn’t really like it.”
She said the feeling of scoring a goal was a mental rush she found hard to give up. But the resilient Finck found a way to compensate.
“As the years went on, every time you make a big save, it’s that same type of excitement,” Finck said. “I loved it so much, I didn’t want to go back.”
Her desire to be in net grew with her ability and when she finally came into her own as a junior, Finck said she finally felt like she belonged. Compounding the positive experience was how well she controlled rebounds with her stick, something Schaack said is probably her best asset.
“It’s a great feeling to look back and remember how bad I was before,” Finck said. “I’ve only been goalie for about five years. It’s amazing how far I’ve come.”
It seems Finck has figured out how to succeed as netminder for the Blue Jays, who are 17-5 and can still be a No. 2 seed for the state tournament.
She’s also figured out where she’s going to college, signing with Lake Forest College, an NCAA Division III school 30 miles north of Chicago. She plans to play goalie for both the soccer and hockey teams.
For now, making noise at state is priority No. 1.
“We feel like we’re going into state the most prepared we’ve been in my high school career,” Finck said. “We’re all ready to go in there and play our hearts out.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org