Aggressive goaltender aids in Falcon victories
December 14, 2006
“Usually goalies are a lot more conservative,” junior AJ Bucchino said. “I’m not a very conservative person. I get caught up in the moment. I just like to get into the action and if I have the opportunity to play the puck, I will.”
Bucchino’s aggressive style of play has helped lead the Falcons to an 11-2 record going into the winter break.
The native of Bow, N.H., has been skating since he was three and played in his first game when he was six.
Bucchino was also a three sport athlete in prep school, also playing soccer and baseball. But he always wanted to be a hockey goalie.
“What I love is the pressure situation,” Bucchino said of his position. “Making a save is a good feeling.”
While some players may feel uncomfortable with an aggressive goaltender, his teammates at River Falls said they do not.
“I love to play with AJ…” teammate TJ Dahl said. “He’s one of my best friends. I love the fact that we can sit around and BS with each other and just talk about hockey or life.”
Prior to his time at River Falls, Bucchino said he has paid his dues to be where he is now. He played one year at Div. I University of New Hampshire and spent two years in the United States Hockey League where he played for Des Moines.
“It wasn’t the greatest time. I didn’t get to play,” Bucchino said of his Div. I experience.
However, since arriving at UWRF last fall, Bucchino has made an impact on the hockey team and has enjoyed his time here. He gives a lot of credit to the coaching staff for helping him improve as a hockey player.
“He’s been unbelievable [this year],” Dahl said. “He’s literally kept us in games.”
Bucchino is an assistant captain this season and fills the leadership position very well.
“On and off the ice, you always here his voice,” Dahl said. “He’s been a huge part about the team. I’m happy we were able to bring him to River Falls.”
Bucchino is a psychology major and expects to graduate in May of 2008. After graduation, he’s still unsure of what he’s going to do, but he would love to continue to play hockey.
“I want to play hockey as long as I can,” Bucchino said. “I’m not ready to stop yet. I want to pursue the next level.”
Bucchino said he has also thought of going on in school and getting a master’s degree in psychology. He wants to study the mental aspect of sports.
“There’s not a lot of mental training in sports,” Bucchino said. “When I was younger I learned that all sports are all mental. You just have to keep it in perspective and not get too high or too low.”
In his spare time Bucchino said he enjoys hanging out with his teammates and watching hockey.
He also spends a lot of time doing homework and working. During the off-season Bucchino said he likes to spend time at the beach and play baseball.
The Falcons played St. Mary’s on Tuesday night, winning the game in a dominating 10-2 fashion. The home win was a quick bounce back after a rough weekend at St. Scholastica and UW-Superior. While the team beat Scholastica, it was a struggle.
“It wasn’t a very good weekend. I wish we could have won both the games,” Bucchino said. “People were frustrated, but we did come home with two points.”
With a break coming up, Bucchino said the Falcons are going to rest a couple of banged-up bodies and it will give the team time to heal up, both in body and mind.
“He’s the kind of goalie every team dreams to have. He can win a game by himself,” Cory Baldwin said. “AJ’s a great leader on and off the ice, he’ll do anything to make himself better and make the players in front of him better. “
“Just knowing he wants to be better shows how big of a competitor he is and for any team to make it to the end you need players like him,” Baldwin said. “I love playing in front of him, knowing he will play the puck is great. He’s the kind of goalie that knows how, and when to catch a team on a bad change.”
Bucchino’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed in years past and he’s won many Player of the Week honors.
“He’s the kind of goalie that knows how, and when to catch a team on a bad change,” Baldwin said. “Watching him mix it up only shows me how much he wants to win and I love it. I guess that’s pretty much it.”
The Falcons are on break for a few weeks before Bucchino and the rest of the team hit the ice.
The second half of the season opens up Jan. 4 against Marian. The game will be on the road before returning to the confines of Hunt Arena.
The team’s first home game will be Jan. 6 against Bethel.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.