Editor's Note: This article was written and used for the Dartmouth/Quinnipiac-Princeton Game Program this past weekend at Thompson Arena.
If you’ve ever played hockey… you know. You know what everyone in the locker room thinks when they look at one particular teammate, usually off in the corner in their own world.
Such is the stigma of the goaltender.
Cab Morris probably gets those looks from his Dartmouth teammates, but it’s unlikely he sees them.
For Morris, it’s about having people understand his actions are not superstitions, but rather a structured routine that makes goalies different.
“It’s evolved for me. There is a big difference between the two,” Morris said. “Routines prepare you to go out and perform, while superstitions are the belief that you have to rely on something to play well.
“Routines are something that I can control. I’ve had some serious injuries and the things I do before the game were activities I was taught to help limit the possibilities of hurting myself any further in the future.”
Morris is usually one of the first players on the concourse preparing for each game and is always the first to begin stretching prior to morning skate on game days. He’s easy to distinguish, working with rubber bands around his thighs and shins in his usual grey sweatsuit, mimicking the side-to-side movement used by netminders during games.
Those serious injuries that require such a stringent pattern of exercises each time he plays: both a torn labrum in his hip and torn abdominal muscles. Each required the Wilmette, Ill., native to undergo surgery to repair. The abs came the summer after his lone season of juniors, while the hip was repaired in the spring of his freshman season.
Listening to Morris describe the extent of his abdominal injury and his lack of knowledge as to precisely when the gruesome injury took place can leave anyone with a weak stomach a bit squeamish.
“I battled through that major injury freshman year and had a very long rehab,” Morris remarked. “Ultimately it taught me the dedication necessary to overcome the inevitable bumps in the road or in that journey. I knew I would have to work extremely hard to get back on track.”
Battling through those two setbacks was always at the forefront of his mind. A goal-oriented individual both on and off the ice, Morris now sees practice as a chance to tackle new aspects of his game in a constant drive to be better.
“I want to work smart and go into practice everyday with a personal goal. To do that, I have to be committed to always improving my game every single day.”
Talking to Morris, you can tell in the way he talks about the subject that he wants to be viewed as a good teammate just as much as he does a good goaltender. He talks about building a legacy for teammates that they can look back on and know that he gave everything he could for his team and those who play alongside him.
“My teammates have both supported and believed in me when I have been given the chance. They are some of the most genuine friends I could ask for and who ultimately share the same kind of love for this game that I do,” Morris stated.
His path to becoming teammates with those individuals at Dartmouth isn’t clear. That is to say, Morris can’t recall just how old he was when he made the switch full time from forward to goalie.
“I was on skates when I was a little kid. My dad’s family played hockey. My mom’s family played hockey. I guess I was just destined to play.
“I think I was playing mini mites and there was one kid in the league who could lift the puck and I made a glove save on him. Next thing I remember I was getting called up to a regular mite team and went from there.”
A left-handed netminder, Morris began his journey in the crease with a baseball mitt and a ‘rinky’ blocker as he called it, waiting for the position to become a more permanent fixture before seeking out the correct handedness of sticks and other equipment.
“My dad was a goalie and I don’t think he wanted me to follow, because what parent wants their kid to be a goalie? I started as a forward and we rotated who would play goal. It kind of just started from that.”
Like most players who have come before and most that will come after, Morris is determined to decide himself when his hockey career is over, rather than have it dictated to him by a schedule.
“As my time at Dartmouth comes to an end, I am thankful to my parents who have worked hard to provide me this opportunity,” Morris said. “I will pursue hockey professionally afterwards as I am not done playing this game and plan to play as long as I can.”
And why would he stop? Playing hockey is part of Morris’ everyday routine.
by Pat Salvas