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Keeping Afloat Through Adversity: A Troy Timpano Feature

July 7, 2016

 

 

Adversity is something every goalie goes through at some point or another. Whether it’s going down in a playoff series or trying to break out of a losing streak adversity happens. Adversity is closely watched by scouts as the pressure can turn a goalie into a star or show critical weaknesses. For some goalies though the adversity seems to never end and scouts are just sitting waiting for a result. This applies to one goalie in particular, Sudbury Wolves goalie Troy Timpano.

 

Troy Timpano is a Pickering, Ontario native who is currently the starter for the Sudbury Wolves. Recently he was passed over for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.  His adversity didn’t start there though. His adversity started in his first season of him being the man in the crease in the OHL which was the 2014/15 season. Timpano played 46 games in the 2014/15 season and was the only goalie his age to play that many games. Those 46 games were a huge jump from the 12 games Timpano saw in the 2013/14 season as a back-up

 

A jump of 34 games is a huge task for any goalie. This is why we see goalies such as Martin Jones or Matt Murray have questions being asked about whether they could be a starter in the NHL. Thankfully for Martin Jones he was able to learn from established goalie in Jonathan Quick. For Timpano in the OHL his mentor was Frank Palazzese who he credits for making the transition easier.

 

 

I was fortunate to have backed up behind a goalie like Franky Palazzese. I acted like a sponge my first year, soaked everything in and watched how Franky handled himself – he was a really good mentor to have.” - Troy Timpano

 

And looking at Timpano’s number his first year they aren’t anything exciting. A 9-36-1-0 record with a 4.50 goals against average and 0.884 save percentage is not going to earn you many accolades either in the media or among fans. On the surface we have numbers that show a highly talented goalie stumble in his first season. With all statistics though there is more below the surface then what a W-L record, GAA and SV% can show us.

 

As a new starter in the OHL Timpano faced a league high 36 shots per game. The 2014/15 Sudbury Wolves didn’t just let Timpano play net under siege for the majority of games they also failed to provide Timpano proper goal support. The Sudbury Wolves put up the least amount of goals in the 2014/15 season and were the most shut out team in the OHL as well. Any coach or player will tell you it’s hard to win games without scoring goals. The final cherry on top of an adversity filled season was a 14-game losing streak which was finally ended against Guelph where Timpano stopped 42/45 shots for a 4-3 win.

 

Timpano’s 2014/15 season is a crash course in adversity. As a first time starter he didn’t come away from the season without a single positive and showed plenty of fight against the adversity he faced. In mid-December Timpano was named the CHL Goaltender of the Week. The Sudbury Wolves won 12 games in 2014/15 and out of those 12 wins Timpano was responsible for 9 of those. To go even deeper Timpano was the first star for 8 out of his 9 wins.

 

Near the end of the 2014/15 season Timpano faced even more adversity by going down with a two week injury. The Wolves went winless in the 7 games that Timpano missed. Timpano’s first game back was a 31-save shutout and won 2-of-3 of his first games back from injury. In March with nothing left to play for other then pride Timpano put up a 2.84 GAA and 0.921 SV% showing compete until the end. For his efforts and skill level Timpano was brought to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence after the season.

 

Hockey is a team a game though and every loss was not always the fault of the players in front of Timpano. As a goalie you need to take a certain amount of responsibility and are given expectations. Like all young goalies Timpano did face consistency issues as he’d never played so many games in a season before. It is grinding on the mind of the goalie to have goals go by and forgetting them may be a goalies toughest job according to Timpano.

 

 

Theres a really good quote by Jacques Plante where he says, "How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?" He basically sums up the most difficult part of goaltending, being able to forget about a goal and get ready for the next shot. You are the most important position, mental toughness is crucial.” - Troy Timpano

 

No matter how tough you are mentally though there are cracks or even breaking points. After a season where your team ends near the bottom of the entire CHL you need a reset whether you are a player, coach, goalie or in management.

 

With the way the season went, as a team I believe we were all fairly glad it was over. Don't get me wrong no one wants to go home early, and it ate me up packing my bags in the middle of March. But, when the season goes the way it did, you need to hit the reset button, take away any positives individually and as a team but, most importantly forget about it and get ready for the next year.” - Troy Timpano

 

Moving forward into the 2015/16 season it’s Troy Timpano’s first year of being eligible for the draft and there’s hope surrounding the team for a playoff spot. The past season Timpano and his teammates dealt with more adversity then most players will see in two seasons of play. Going into the2015/16 season Timpano and his teammates would have to deal with more adversity. Some of that adversity was brought on by himself when Timpano had a rough start to the season.

 

 “I don't think anyone was expecting the season to go the way it did, I got to camp nursing an injury and just kept telling myself it can't get worse just play through it, well that wasn't the case.” – Troy Timpano

 

In the first five games of the season Timpano put up a 0.866 SV% and a 4.80 GAA to go along with a 1-4 record. In addition to those numbers Timpano also only had one game above the OHL SV% in the five games he played before succumbing to his injury.

 

The injury would prove to be one of the biggest tests of Timpano’s mental fortitude yet. For anyone who plays sports being forced to sit on the sidelines is difficult. Timpano needed to wait nearly two months before being able to rejoin his team in games. In those two months Timpano spent one month waiting around to heal and then another month of rehabilitation to get him back into game shape. It was not easy.

 

With all adversity though there are two outcomes. You can either learn and become a better person from it or crumble under the pressure. For Timpano this new challenge was important for him to grow as a person.

 

 

I look back at it now and in a way I'm fortunate for the adversity, it’s made me stronger as a person and as a goalie. During my time out I focused on the things I could control, my training/rehab, keeping my head in the game by reviewing video and most importantly staying positive. Ask any player, when you're out for a long time during the season you almost feel excluded, you do the majority of things on your own and it could force your head into the wrong place. Luckily, with my amazing billets Liz and Leo Frappier and my incredible parents they helped keep my mind where it needed to be.” – Troy Timpano

 

Timpano’s return to the Sudbury net was welcomed and much needed. In the two months Timpano was out with an injury the Wolves only managed to win four games. Coming back to the net Timpano helped end a season long losing streak that the Wolves had going on with a 4-2 win over the Guelph Storm. It didn’t stop there. Timpano went on a small 3-game win streak with an additional 4-3 shootout win which featured three game saving stops from Timpano in the dying minutes of Overtime and a 2-0 30-save shutout over the Erie Otters.

 

Timpano just didn’t look good statistically in his return. Timpano did take advantage of the reset to learn how to become a stronger goalie and it translated on the ice. A well-rested Troy Timpano is a dangerous goalie for the opposing team as most teams saw when he came back. You could see the competitiveness that Timpano thrives on.

 

In many instances you’d see that Timpano would fight through opposing players to cover pucks or get into position. Or he’d try quarterbacking the Wolves power play from the Wolves own zone which was always entertaining. Along with his competitiveness Timpano displayed his hockey IQ. Timpano’s ability to read the plays and stop those high chance shots is impressive. Opposing teams would still score which is why high chance shots are called high chance shots. However Timpano had the ability to give the Wolves enough of a chance to win or at least make it close.

 

 

A great strength of a goalie is knowing what are their weaknesses and what are their strengths. Through the course of the season Timpano showed he understood how to minimize his weaknesses and maximize his strengths. One example is Timpano changing the depth of his crease positioning depending on the threat he faced. Another example is Timpano using his edge work and foot speed to make himself look bigger in net.

 

Being on the average size of goaltenders (6'1), I learned that yeah I'm not a 6'4 goalie, I can't rely on my size to get in front of pucks I have to react and position myself as best as I can to make the save. I'd say I'm very athletic, my quickness is something I believe helps me a lot. On top of that, I'm patient yet aggressive when it comes to battling for the puck or an extra inch of ice. I take pride in my ability to read the game and see plays developing as well as my puck handling ability.” – Troy Timpano

 

The end of the 2015/16 season wasn’t as strong as an end to the 2014/15 season. In March 2016 Timpano had a 0.855 SV%, 6.00 GAA and a 0-4-1 record. Numbers of course look terrible. However there is always a story behind the numbers. Headed into the stretch of the season wasn’t Timpano giving up. In fact it was the opposite as Timpano told his coaches to leave him in no matter how bad it got. Timpano wanted to finish the season on his competitive terms.

 

The 2015/16 season for Troy Timpano and the Sudbury Wolves was even more adversity filled then the past season 2014/15 season. Once again though there were some positives. Timpano came back from injury improved, Timpano put up one more win then last season, Timpano was responsible for 10 out of 15 wins that the Wolves had and in close games Timpano was excellent. How excellent? In 19 close games (close games being defined as a game being decided by 2 or less goals) Timpano had a 8-9-2 record, 0.907 SV%, twelve of those games he posted a SV% above the OHL SV% and faced more shots than the opposing goalie 14/19 games.

 

Of course the2015/16 season did not hold up to anyone’s expectations on the Sudbury Wolves. After one bad season you try to avoid following it up with a nearly equal one. Every player went home after the season was disappointed to say the least. For Timpano this season was his roughest of his career.

 

“The last season was definitely one of the tougher years in my life let alone my career. It seemed as if nothing was going my way or my family's way for that matter. I wasn't the only one going through adversity during the year and so to reflect back, I'm fortunate to have gone through what I did at such an early stage of my career, it taught me a lot and I'm grateful for the experience.” – Troy Timpano

 

Add the two rough OHL seasons and being passed over in his first year of eligibility for the NHL season and you have enough adversity to hold you down. What is admirable about Troy Timpano though is that he has one of the best attitudes you’ll see in a player or goalie especially when considering the circumstances. It’s important to maintain that type of attitude because as a goalie you are the last line of defense. The other team can’t win if they can’t score on your goalie and this helps boost your team as we’ve seen in the NHL with Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and lately Braden Holtby.

 

 

I feel as a goalie the team builds confidence off of you. It was important to me to maintain a very optimistic attitude through the last two years, I wanted to lead and show that things were going to be alright, we are at that rebuilding stage and you need understand that sometimes things happen gradually rather than overnight. I must add my teammates make it very easy for me to be happy even through the tough times, we're a family, everyone gets along and I couldn't ask for a better group of people including our coaches to go through this with.” – Troy Timpano

 

Looking to the future Timpano and his teammates will be looking to bring back playoff hockey to Sudbury. The Wolves recently drafted a top prospect in Owen Lalonde who will help on defense. The Wolves also have David Levin, Dmitri Sokolov and Alan Lyszczarczyk on forward. So Timpano understands the importance of not only a strong season but also the importance of a strong start which he didn’t have to start the 2015/16 season.

 

This year the mindset is going to be that we're going to turn this thing around. Hopefully, everyone gets to camp healthy and injury free, then we start chipping away game-by-game. It's important not get too ahead of ourselves, but from talking to the guys during the offseason we all can't wait to get back up there and prove to everyone what we can do.” – Troy Timpano

 

Timpano is focused on the coming OHL season but the thought of the 2017 draft is in the back of his mind as it is for every goalie that went undrafted this year. The ultimate goal is to be in the NHL and Timpano is working hard to get there. This off-season he is working with goalie coaches Piero Greco and Kain Tisi weekly on his weaknesses. To put it plainly Troy Timpano is invested into making the 2016/17 season his season no matter what. He's a goaltender that NHL teams should keep an eye on this coming season and has a good chance to be the surprise goalie of the 2017 NHL Draft.

 

 

 

Below I have added the full interview I did with Troy Timpano. I really enjoyed his answers and thought that everyone deserves a chance to see into the mind of a goalie who has gone through so much in his career thus far. There's no cliches here just an honest person talking about his thoughts on himself and goaltending. 

 

Full Interview With Troy Timpano

 

Question 1)What is the most important aspect of goaltending in your opinion and why?

 

Troy Timpano: In my opinion, the most important aspect of goaltending would have to be Hockey IQ. You can tell when a goalie has a high IQ because it almost looks as if they know whats going to happen before it even happens. The ability to read the game separates the good goalies from the great goalies , it makes saves selections more efficient and in terms of playing the puck those with the hockey sense I'm talking about, act almost as a third defensemen. 

 

Question 2) What is the most difficult part about being a goalie and why? 

 

Troy Timpano: Theres a really good quote by Jacque Plante where he says, "How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?" He basically sums up the most difficult part of goaltending, being able to forget about a goal and get ready for the next shot. You are the most important position, mental toughness is crucial. 

 

Question 3) In 2013/14 you played 8 games. In 2014/15 you were moved into the starter role and played 46 games. How did you handle the transition?

 

Troy Timpano: I was fortunate to have backed up behind a goalie like Franky Palazzese. I acted like a sponge my first year, soaked everything in and watched how Franky handled himself – he was a really good mentor to have. Going into the year I knew it wasn't going to be an easy transition. Physically, going from playing almost one game every 2 weeks to playing 3 in one weekend it was definitely a challenge – fortunately for me I was able to adapt quickly. With help from my trainers at Elite Training Systems (ETS), I was in the condition I needed to be in to take on the change of workload heading into the season. However, I found mentally the transition was almost easier. Ask any goalie, the more games you play, the more comfortable you get and you almost get into a 'groove'. And in my second year with the Wolves I found that out fairly quickly. 

 

Question 4) 2014/15 ended with the Wolves as last in the OHL. There were more than a few personal positives for you though: Attended Program of Excellence Goalie camp in Calgary, most shots/saves per game, etc. What were your thoughts at the end of the 2014/15 season?

 

Troy Timpano: With the way the season went, as a team I believe we were all fairly glad it was over. Don't get me wrong no one wants to go home early, and it ate me up packing my bags in the middle of March. But, when the season goes the way it did, you need to hit the reset button, take away any positives individually and as a team but, most importantly forget about it and get ready for the next year. I remember getting home and thinking to myself, wow... I can't wait for September; I can't wait to get back up there and turn this thing around. 

 

Question 5) The start to the 2015/16 season was rough. How do you plan on avoiding the same start for the upcoming 2016/17 season?

 

Troy Timpano: I don't think anyone was expecting the season to go the way it did, I got to camp nursing an injury and just kept telling myself it can't get worse just play through it, well that wasn't the case. This year the mindset is going to be that we're going to turn this thing around. Hopefully, everyone gets to camp healthy and injury free, then we start chipping away game-by-game. It's important not get too ahead of ourselves, but from talking to the guys during the offseason we all can't wait to get back up there and prove to everyone what we can do. 

 

Question 6) You were the busiest goalie night in and night out in the CHL. How do you prepare yourself before each game knowing you’ll most likely face about 37 shots?

 

Troy Timpano: I've always said I rather get 53 shots than get 22. For one, it's more fun and I believe it helps your development being put into some situations some goalies don't ever go through. I go into every game prepared the same way, no matter whom we're playing. 

 

Question 7) You were out for nearly two months this past season. You came back and went on a strong run. What helped to make that run happen?

 

Troy Timpano: Yeah that was a tough few months, I look back at it now and in a way I'm fortunate for the adversity, its made me stronger as a person and as a goalie. During my time out I focused on the things I could control, my training/rehab, keeping my head in the game by reviewing video and most importantly staying positive. Ask any player, when you're out for a long time during the season you almost feel excluded, you do the majority of things on your own and it could force your head into the wrong place. Luckily, with my amazing billets Liz and Leo Frappier and my incredible parents they helped keep my mind where it needed to be. When I got back I had such a high for the game, I was able to train the last two months and prepare myself for my return. Honestly, it was surreal. A month prior I didn't think I was going to be back at all, thankfully the way things worked out I was able to play and finish the year at 75%. The team also caught a groove when I first got back, things were clicking and everyone was doing their job, it felt good. Unfortunately, again the year didn't go the way anyone would have liked but, take away the positives, clear your head and come back stronger in September. 

 

Question 8) Losing isn’t fun. No one likes to lose. The past two seasons in Sudbury have been rough yet you manage to have a positive attitude still. How important is it to you to maintain that positive attitude in the face of so much adversity? 

 

Troy Timpano: I feel as a goalie the team builds confidence off of you. It was important to me to maintain a very optimistic attitude through the last two years, I wanted to lead and show that things were going to be alright, we are at that rebuilding stage and you need understand that sometimes things happen gradually rather than over night. I must add my teammates make it very easy for me to be happy even through the tough times, we're a family, everyone gets along and I couldn't ask for a better group of people including our coaches to go through this with. 

 

Question 9) What can you build off of in the 2015/16 season and what needs improvement from the 2016/17 season?

 

Troy Timpano: The last season was definitely one of the tougher years in my life let alone my career. It seemed as if nothing was going my way or my family's way for that matter. I wasn't the only one going through adversity during the year and so to reflect back, I'm fortunate to have gone through what I did at such an early stage of my career, it taught me a lot and I'm  grateful for the experience. To look back and see what needs improvements, my consistency game in and game out. The feedback I've gotten was exactly what I thought it would be, I need to steal more games and play at the top of my ability more consistently and get rid of the highs and lows in my game. I look forward to doing so in the 16/17 season.

 

Question 10) How would you describe yourself as a goalie and your play style?

 

Troy Timpano:  Being on the average size of goaltenders (6'1), I learned that yeah I'm not a 6'4 goalie, I can't rely on my size to get in front of pucks I have to react and position myself as best as I can to make the save. I'd say I'm very athletic, my quickness is something I believe helps me a lot. On top of that, I'm patient yet aggressive when it comes to battling for the puck or an extra inch of ice. I take pride in my ability to read the game and see plays developing as well as my puck handling ability. I like to think my puck playing came from years outside playing road hockey, but I'll let the multiple holes in my garage door speak for itself or my Mother who won't let me play anymore... But its safe to say whenever I got the chance to shoot pucks even as a goalie, I did. 

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