DANBURY, CT– Nathan Hadley and Trey Hirschfield are expected to serve as the goaltending tandem for the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks in their opening playoff round against the New Jersey Titans this weekend.
While head coach Kevin Cunningham would not commit to a definitive schedule, both goaltenders exude confidence ahead of their first Fraser Cup Playoff run.
“I think anyone in our division is beatable,” said the 19-year-old Hadley. “At this point it’s anyone’s division. We can go out there and beat anyone on any day.”
“You can see how we play when we’re on our game,” added Hirschfield. “We’re unstoppable. I trust every single guy on the ice. Going into the playoffs, you really need that.”
Hadley emerged as the number one starter for the team over the course of the season, leading the team with a 13-5-0 record. Beyond what his numbers say- and they’re solid numbers with a 2.95 goals-against average and .901 save percentage- Hadley’s ability to track the puck through traffic and utilize his athleticism to make desperation saves has garnered league-wide attention come time for Plays of the Week.
The Anoka, Minnesota native is excited for his first taste of junior hockey playoffs.
“We didn’t make it too far in the playoffs [in high school],” Hadley joked, alluding to his 31-save performance for the Anoka High School Tornados in a 2-0 playoff loss in 2019. “Then last year things got shut down before we got started.”
If Hadley is to start Game One at Danbury Arena, he’ll protecting a near-spotless record on home ice. He is 6-1 at home, with his only loss coming in his debut back on October 15th.
Hirschfield finished the season strong, winning five of his six decisions in March. His splits compare favorably with Hadley’s, ending with a 2.93 goals-against average and .903 save percentage over 11 appearances.
Starter or not, Hirschfield believes his time in high school, winning a State Championship at Colorado’s Pepsi Center with the Valor Christian Eagles, has prepared him for the pressures of Fraser Cup Playoff hockey.
“Something about playing on an NHL rink, there’s just something about it,” Hirschfield smiled. “Looking around, seeing all those seats, imaging all the people with NHL jerseys on, it’s just a dream.”
The two netminders have stood out from the rest of the pack; quite literally, as Hadley is 6’3″ and Hirschfield stands at 6’6″. But with the Jr. Hat Tricks carrying five goaltenders on their roster, internal competition has driven the team forward.
“That’s one of the best parts for me, you’re never comfortable where you’re at,” Hirschfield said of battery mates Alex Fernandes, Landon Palmer and D’Mar McCoy. “You’re always battling to get better.”
“I think we all have raised the compete level for everyone on the team,” Hadley noted.
Hadley and Hirschfield are tasked with shutting down one of the best top lines in the East Division, led by star duo Brandon Avesov and Philippe Doucette.
“It comes down to shutting down their powerhouses,” Hadley scouted.
“When they’re passing it around, they’re just another player with the puck,” explained Hirschfield. “But if it’s a faceoff, I can see Avesov going behind the puck, I’m pretty sure they’ll do a play off that.”
Game One of the East Division Semi-Final is set for Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets will be sold in a limited quantity online HERE and at the Danbury Arena box office. Game Two will be played on Saturday at New Jersey. Game Three, if necessary, will be Monday at 12:30 p.m. at Danbury Arena.