Developing Story: Ryan Faragher
In Developing Story, a regular feature on collegehockeyinc.com, we highlight current college hockey players who have developed their skills during their careers – either on the ice or off – and in turn made a bigger impact on their team’s success.
Ryan Faragher isn't the big-name goaltender in this year's Frozen Four. In fact, the St. Cloud State sophomore is almost anonymous in a field that includes a Hobey candidate in Eric Hartzell and two other arguable team MVPs in Jeff Malcolm and Connor Hellebuyck.
While seniors like Drew LeBlanc and Ben Hanowski may overshadow Faragher on the Huskies, they know that no team wins a national title without an excellent goaltender. With Faragher's penchant for big-game success and his steady growth the past two seasons, the St. Cloud State coaches and players like their chances.
It's been a rapid ascension for the Fort Frances, Ontario, native who most figured wouldn't play much last season behind Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Mike Lee. When Lee got hurt right before the first WCHA game of the season, however, that changed quickly. Faragher posted a shutout in his first conference start - at North Dakota no less - and the Huskies knew they had something special.
While games like that shutout in Grand Forks showed Faragher's potential, his freshman season was up and down. He won consecutive games three times, but never strung three wins together, and ended up back behind Lee for 10 of the final 11 games of the year.
"If he had a great game then the next he'd settle back in and maybe get comfortable," head coach Bob Motzko said. "We knew we had to work on some of the mental aspects of the game with him."
Faragher and goaltending coach Dave Rogalski worked closely not just on his on-ice technique in practice, but on his focus and approacch to the game mentally. The results have been evident this year, with Lee departed to the pro ranks and Faragher the solid No. 1 goaltender all year.
"He's more relaxed now, and that helps him read the play," Motzko said. "He's able to be at his best consistently, and that's impressive because his best is awfully good."
At 6-foot-2, 2-5 pounds, Faragher gave Rogalski an impressive frame and lots of natural ability to work with as a goaltending coach.
"He's a farm-strong kid, and he's really athletic," Motzko said. "You could see it in those big games like at North Dakota last year. Now he's really put it all together."
As a result, heralded or not, there's no one else the Huskies would want in their crease come Thursday night.
"He's our guy," Motzko said. "We've watched him get better and improve in so many areas. When he's had a couplpe of these challenges as a goaltender to get better, he's handled them. I think all of us - I know all of us, not think - have complete confidence in him that he's going to be prepared to go."