As a junior, Hunter Hadsock had a rough start to his CHSAA career. However, the Glenwood Springs goalie rebounded with a productive senior season, posting a .901 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average. Photo courtesy of Jay Hammond
Demons goalie Hunter Hadsock
Hunter Hadsock entered a Jan. 23 game against Battle Mountain feeling, in his words, “super confident.”
He had no reason not to be.
The Glenwood Springs goaltender was in the midst of a solid season and had shut out the rival Huskies with a 39-save performance nine days prior. It was a good place to be, as Hadsock was coming off a junior year that involved some struggles and tough lessons learned.
In the late-January rematch with Battle Mountain, Hadsock made 26 saves to help his team to a 3-2 triumph. A day later, he stopped 53 shots in the Demons' 3-3 tie with Chaparral.
It was one of Hadsock’s finest stretches of a senior year that followed an offseason spent developing his game both physically and mentally. After an uneven junior season, Hadsock finished his prep career as one of the most improved goalies in the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA).
He played the third-most minutes (959:09) of all goalies in the regular season, and his 11 victories was tied with two others, including CHSAA All-State Second Team goalie AJ DiChiara of Kent Denver, for the most in the league.
Hadsock's 2.75 goals-against average was the best among goalies logging more than 800 minutes in regular-season play, while his .902 save percentage was tied with three others for second-best behind DiChiara's .930.
Glenwood Springs didn’t have high school hockey until the 2018-19 season, fielding only a club team in previous years.
The Demons’ first season of CHSAA play came with a learning curve as Glenwood Springs skaters were forced to adjust to a more rigidly refereed game. The Demons led the league with 84 penalty-killing opportunities that year — over 20 more than the next closest team — resulting in opponents getting a lot of shots on goal while generating extra work for Hadsock.
“We had a lot of penalty minutes, so I saw a lot of shots,” he said. “I let in a lot of goals. My save percentage definitely wasn’t that good for my junior year, but it definitely helped me understand what to look forward to in a higher level of hockey.”
Hadsock’s numbers as a junior don’t jump off the page: an 8-10-0 overall record to go with an .852 save percentage and a 4.95 GAA.
Glenwood Springs coach Tim Cota believed Hadsock was better than those stats and for good reason.
Cota has coached Hadsock for five seasons and noticed the goalie's raw ability to play the position when Hadsock was in eighth grade. Even though he had the physical tools, Hadsock hadn't achieved more success because the mental aspect of goaltending had slowed him down. That was until midway through his junior year.
“We started to see that mental aspect change with him where he wasn’t so reactionary to every goal that was going by him,” Cota said. “He just was more consistent, didn’t let it get to him, and he just became our backbone.”
Just as his team had to adjust to different rules upon joining the CHSAA, Hadsock needed to find the cerebral strength to succeed in varsity high school hockey.
Hadsock spent much of the offseason between his junior and senior campaigns training at camps in Denver. Beyond that, he had little specialized goalie training in Glenwood Springs, and determined what specifically he should be working on to continue developing his skills. It was an approach he picked up from Cota over time.
“Once the kids get a little older with me, I give them a little bit more empowerment,” Cota said. “They can empower themselves. They can let me know what’s going on, what they need from me as a coach.”
Hadsock began his senior year with renewed confidence and ended the regular season on Feb. 22 with another solid performance, stopping 27 of 30 shots in the Demons' tie with Aspen. The transformation was complete and his season stats proved it: a 12-5-3 overall record, a .901 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average.
“I just was way more confident in myself,” Hadsock said. “I was having a lack of confidence — I’m pretty sure — during years past. I was just getting pelted. I was just way more confident in my team and it led to me being more confident in myself.”
Hadsock’s hockey future is uncertain for now, with the COVID-19 pandemic having derailed opportunities for ice time after the high school season concluded. If he has played his final game, he’s fine with having proven high school hockey wasn’t too much for him.
“It went a lot better,” Hadsock said of his senior year. “I definitely feel like I settled down into the CHSAA with my team. We definitely played way more like a family. I felt way more confident in myself.
"I was way more clear-headed my senior year and it just was an overall way better experience.”
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