By Jim Smith
Portage Sports Correspondent
The Kent Roosevelt ice hockey team has played 17 games in span of 33 days thus far in their 2022-23 campaign.
That equates to 51 periods of ice hockey.
As the sole goaltender on the Rough Riders’ roster, sophomore Brooke Binder has played nearly every minute — she sat out for two minutes to allow for an extra skater in one game — of every period the team has skated this season.
And, by the way, she also shut out the opponent in overtime in the Adam S. Hamilton Memorial Tournament championship game and held on to guide Roosevelt in a shootout victory in that event.
In total, Binder has played 776 minutes of a possible 778.
Drawn to the position after seeing goaltending gear online as a youth hockey player in elementary school, and requesting her dad, Chris, purchase the gear, Brooke moved from playing defense to goaltender.
“I just tried and really liked it. That’s how it started,” Binder said. “I’ve pretty much been a goalie the whole time.”
While other Rough Riders position players have the opportunity to rest in between on-ice shifts during a game, Binder has no such luxury and must remain focused and “in the game” at all times.
“It’s a bit tiring at times,” said Binder, “but I have great teammates to back me up all the time. It’s really hard to keep your head during a game. You have to picture yourself doing really good and make it realistic. The more realistic it is, the more likely I feel like it happens.”
When teams do score against Roosevelt, Binder tries to “keep composure, shake goals off and stand tall no matter what.”
Rough Riders head coach Brad Edwards noted “strength” when describing Binder.
“She is strong in a mental capacity,” the coach said. “She has the ability to lock in and do her job. Her play in the tournament down in Miami (University) won that tournament for us.”
Roosevelt won the DiPaolo Memorial Tournament at Miami University after Binder limited Springboro to a single goal in the title game. Springboro had defeated the Rough Riders 4-0 in preliminary play at the event.
“Without (her) between the pipes this year, we would be in trouble,” Edwards said. “She is a great person, a good teammate, very strong willed and is able to adapt to most situations. Her strength to be able to play all 17 games this season is tremendous.”
Roosevelt goaltending coach David Simms has worked with Binder since her playing career in the Kent Cyclones’ youth hockey association and has noticed the netminder’s growth and development.
Simms describes Binder as “a gamer” and observed, “Brooke wants to be the kid with the team on her shoulders. She’s OK with that and a sophomore willing to step up and put a team on her back and carry them across the goal line is pretty unique.”
“Every practice we watch the film and do stuff specific to what I feel I need to work on that week,” Binder said while discussing her work on the ice with Simms. “There is never a time when we are doing just random stuff. It’s always meaningful.”
Assistant coach Brent Pfeiffer added that Binder “doesn’t back down from anybody and is tenacious.”
“In a sport that has a lot of contact, she does not let that get in her way,” Pfeiffer said. “She loves a challenge and is out there fighting as hard, if not harder, than any of the guys on the ice.”
Binder’s teammates support the goaltender’s efforts as well — by their play and their expressions of encouragement.
“The system the team is playing this year is really helping a lot,” Simms said. “We’re controlling the offensive zone a lot better.”
Edwards noted, “The team as a whole is positive. Their positivity, and them playing hard in front of her is what matters the most.”
“Brooke makes exceptional saves look routine,” Simms said. “That provides confidence to the team in front of her.”
Statistically, Binder currently owns a .897 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average in Roosevelt’s 17 games. Additionally, she has notched a shutout victory in Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League play.
However, the most fascinating story about numbers regarding Binder may be her jersey.
Jersey No. 62.
She recently mentioned to Portage Sports publisher and editor, Tom Nader, that she had randomly selected the number, for no particular reason, as a youth hockey player.
Years later, while looking at a photo of her father, who died unexpectedly in 2021, holding her on the day she was born, she noticed that the T-shirt he is wearing in the photo has the number 62 on it over his heart.
A discovery that suddenly allowed the number to make sense and suddenly hold a much deeper meaning.
With the remainder of this campaign and two high-school seasons in her future, Binder cannot only make the exceptional save, but she has also proven to many to be exceptional.
You can follow Jim Smith on Twitter @BlueLineNotes