Beyond The Benches

Go Beyond The Benches w/ Cal Heeter

Cal Heeter is in his second season with the Adirondack Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The 6-foot-4 goalie was recently named AHL Player of the Week after posting a stellar 3-0-0 record with two shutout and a .989 save percentage. The St. Louis native currently leads the AHL with a .932 save percentage and is tied for the lead in shutouts with four.

See what Heeter had to say when we caught up with him!

HeeterPOTW2Beyond The Benches: It was a big hit on our website, so we have to start off by asking you, what did you think of the comic drawing of yourself for CCM/AHL player of the week?

Cal Heeter: Ahh the comic was pretty funny, I definitely got a kick out of it. I never knew I could grow a goatee though!

BB: What went into your decision to complete four years at Ohio State rather than pursue another route?

CH: For me personally, even at a young age, all I wanted to do was play college hockey. Being from the states and coming out of a non-traditional hockey market, St. Louis, I really didn’t even know much about major juniors in Canada or anything such as that. Once I got to Ohio State though I was so happy with my decision and leaving early to turn pro was an option but not one that I saw as a good decision for me. Looking back I am really satisfied with my decision and have only great memories of staying 4 years at Ohio State.

BB: This being your second season with the Phantom’s, do you find that you are more comfortable at the pro-level now?

CH: I definitely feel more comfortable. I wouldn’t say that is simply because it is my second year but rather that I feel I have improved from the start of my first. I am always learning and I make it my goal to get better every day. I think when you look at the best players in any sport, throughout history, they were always striving for improvement and that is what makes them the best. Seeing that makes it easy for me to never become complacent or satisfied and always try to improve my game.

BB: What was your experience like at the 2013 World Championships?WC2013

CH: Firstly I just want to thank Paul Holmgren for giving me the opportunity to be on the team. I had an absolutely fantastic experience. I didn’t get the opportunity to play in any of the games and represent my country but I was able to practice with the guys every day. I really felt like I was part of the team even though I didn’t get to play. I met a lot of great guys and made some good friends. That was my first time over seas and I really enjoyed being able to spend a lot of time traveling the city and immersing myself into the local culture. Everyone in Helsinki and Stockholm were fantastic and very nice to us. The staff with the team as well was great and did everything they could to make sure we were comfortable and settling in well.

BB: Goalies are well known to have some pretty outlandish superstitions. Do you have any that have incorporated their way into your rituals?

CH: I wouldn’t say I am one that is big into superstitions. In my mind a superstition is just an excuse that you can fall back on to say why a game might not have gone your way. Having said that though, I definitely have a routine that I stick to pretty strictly on game days. Nothing too crazy or out of the ordinary though, sorry!

BB: You were able to share playing time with veteran Brian Boucher last season for the Phantoms, what were some things that you learned from him?

CH: Brian Boucher was a great guy to have on the team. For me, being a first year pro, there was just so much that I learned from him. He has been a professional for quite some time and just seeing how he approaches things, on and off the ice, to make sure that he is always prepared and ready was a great learning tool for me. I definitely earned a lot of these same things from Scott Munroe who was with us all year in Adirondack as well.

BB: What kind of advantages do you think there are for taller goalies?

CH: The advantages for taller goalies are pretty self explanatory in my mind. Obviously you are taller/bigger, so you get to wear bigger gear, and thus take up more room in the net. It is still very important for the bigger goalies to be agile and be able to move quickly. The players these days are so good that you can not just rely on your size alone to make saves for you.

BB: What are some aspects of your game that you are looking to improve on this season? And what would you say is the strongest part of your game?

CH: I think for me the biggest part of my game that I work on this year has been the mental side. Making sure that I am able to keep an even keel and control my emotions whether it be in practice or a game. Staying focused and being able to hold that concentration needed for 60 minutes is a difficult thing to do, and it is something that I work on constantly. The strongest part of my game is probably my ability to fight through screens and find pucks coming through the traffic in front of my net.

BB: Who was your favorite hockey player growing up and why?

CH: My favorite hockey player growing up was Al MacInnis. I grew up in St. Louis and used to go to a lot of Blues games with my parents. I always just thought that he was a really cool player and seeing his slap shot at the time was very impressive to me at a young age.

BB: What is your favorite sports movie of all-time?

CH: Favorite sports movie has to Slap Shot. I remember the first time I saw that movie as a younger kid and just thought how cool it looked to be a professional hockey player. Watching it now, I see it as more of a comedy but it will always be my favorite sports movie.

BB: Which NHL goalie would you most like to model your game after?

CH: I think it is tough to narrow this down to one goalie. I like to watch a lot of different goalies for their different strengths. I think its incredible how well Mike Smith can handle the puck, while Tuuka Rask has really great active hands, also Ben Bishop and how he uses his size so well but is still a very strong skater in the crease, and lastly Henrik Lundqvist  and his ability to never quit and make those incredible second and third saves in net.

BB: Do you have a favorite item of clothing you like to wear on game days?

CH: I usually wear the same sweat pants and hoodie to pregame skate but for games I don’t really have a favorite. I have a couple nice suits and a bunch of shirts and ties that I like to mix and match together.

CalHeeter3BB: If someone caught you singing along to a song while driving, what would be the song that is playing?

CH: Haha this is a good one, right now it would probably be Selena Gomez and her song Slow Down. Not really proud to say I know all the words but that song is AWESOME!

BB: Aside from hockey, what other sports will you be tuning in to for the upcoming Sochi Olympics?

CH: I think the most exciting things to watch in the winter Olympics, for me at least, are the downhill speed skiing events and then the bobsled and other events on that course. Those guys/girls are crazy and I can’t believe they go 70 mph down a tube covered in ice only riding on metal runners and some plastic seats.

BB: How long do you think you could last with no phone, computer or any type of technology?

CH: That depends, put me on a beach with some great food and cold drinks, probably the rest of my life! As long as I have good friends and family in my company, I don’t think I would have any need for technology on the beach.

 

Big thanks to Cal for taking a few minutes to talk to us and make sure you keep an eye out because he is doing great things for the Phantoms’! You can find him on Twitter @Heeter1.

(Photo Credit: Cal Heeter)

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