Jason St. Pierre, Sage Broda and Michael Errico are all goal tending for the L/A Nordiques. (Andree Kehn /Sun Journal)
AUBURN — When L/A Nordiques head coach Cam Robichaud found out the New England Stars made 20-year-old goalie Sage Broda available, he just had to inquire about him — even though he already had a goalie in his final year of junior hockey eligibility manning the pipes, Michael Errico.
“Typically I don’t like having two 20-year-old (goalies), but we got to the point of the season we needed to bring in another goalie a week after Sage Broda was put on the trading block from the Stars, ” Robichaud said. “To be honest with you, I was pretty shocked because I really thought he was a really strong goaltender.”
The Nordiques gave up two “tenders,” which are like draft picks in that they allow a team to sign a draft-eligible player before the draft. If a team uses a tender, they forfeit a draft pick.
With the Stars, Broda was 4-2 this season with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage before he joined the Nordiques on November 14. Those numbers have only improved — he’s 8-3 with a 1.99 GAA and a .930 save percentage.
The reason Broda became expendable was that New England brought in a younger goaltender to develop for next season.
Broda relishes the opportunity to face his former club in the second round of the NA3HL playoffs this week.
“Ever since the trade, my whole goal has been to end their season,” Broda said. “It’s definitely more competitive. In a way, I am still friends with all those guys over there — except when I am on the ice. I know when (general manager Dan) Fontas first traded me he said he hoped it didn’t come back to haunt him.”
Broda, who was in net in the Nordiques’ Game 2 loss to the Northeast Generals last week, will have to wait his turn — Errico will get the start in game one.
Errico was 1-1 against the Stars this season while Broda with 2-0 against his former club, allowing one goal in each game. The third goalie on the roster, Jason St. Pierre, was 0-2 on the season against New England.
Errico, who’s in his second full season with the Nordiques, likes how another veteran goaltender has kept him sharp.
“It’s been very competitive,” Errico said. “We push each other every day to get better.”
His numbers reflect that. Errico was 15-5 with a 2.04 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He was also the goalie of record in both of the Nordiques’ playoff wins wins against the Generals.
Robichaud liked how Errico responded when Broda joined the team.
“Mike is a pretty quiet guy, so he’s not really going to come right out on how he feels,” Robichaud said. “But I did have a talk with him and I explained to him why we were bringing (Broda) in. I think it motivated him because his game rose to a higher level when Sage got here. The two were pushing each other so it was healthy competition.”
Robichaud is a believer that you can’t ride just one goalie, especially in the playoffs, so he has used two in the three games so far. He said it helped the team clinch the first round series since the Nordiques had a fresher goalie in Game 3 against the Generals.
The scenario the Nordiques are using with has worked in the playoffs, especially at the game’s highest level. The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions used both Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray both years to capture the Stanley Cup.
The three goaltenders knew right from the get-go that they could try to copy what the Penguins have done the past two seasons.
“Probably right when Sage came in,” Errico said. “We all pretty equally talented, so it’s a good trio I think.”
St. Pierre waits his turn
St. Pierre, a Jay native who’s in his first season of junior hockey after three years at Rice Memorial in Vermont, is soaking in the playoff experience on the bench.
As a 18-year-old, he knows he has two more years of junior eligibility.
“Honestly, of all the goalies I have played with, (Broda and Errico) are the best I’ve played with,” St. Pierre said. “They are always supportive. I know I had my shot at the beginning of the year and as they age out this year this is their last year. I want them to have fun with it and it’s good to see them play and do well.”
St. Pierre was 8-3 in the regular season with a 3.08 GAA and an .887 save percentage.
His job in the playoffs is to put in the work in practices, and test both his fellow goalies and the shooters he’s facing.
“Jason has done awesome,” Broda said. “He’s definitely growing mentally I believe. He’s usually one of the first on the ice every day. He’s always battling and trying to get better. I see a lot of progress coming from him and I think he will be exceptional when he’s (20).”
Sage Broda and Michael Errico are both goal tending for the L/A Nordiques. (Andree Kehn /Sun Journal)