St. Louis Native Discovers Gateway To Goaltending Success

The spirit of St. Louis was on display at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The Gateway City was well represented on Team USA's gold-medal winning roster. Clayton Keller and Luke Kunin helped lead up front while Joseph Woll played between the pipes.

While there are plenty of forwards and defensemen at the highest level with St. Louis ties, Woll is the rare goalie from the Show Me State. The 6-foot-3 netminder realizes this and hopes he can help inspire other local goalies to stand tall between the pipes.

Woll's love for goaltending dates back to his days as a mini-Mite.

"Early on, it was all about the gear and the chance to put on the pads," Woll said. "It was so exciting to me to have everything riding on you."

Playing alongside Keller, Woll captured the eyes of many with his play with the St. Louis AAA Blues.

"As the years went on, you could see [Woll's] passion and work ethic grow," said Bruce Racine, a goalie instructor in St. Louis that has worked with Woll for more than a decade. "When you saw him as a second-year Peewee or Bantam, you knew this was somebody who could play junior, college or beyond."

History has proven Racine to be right on the money. Woll played two years with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program and was part of Team USA's bronze medal team at the 2016 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.

This past year, Woll was chosen in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Months later, he kicked off his career at Boston College, helping the Eagles to the Hockey East tournament final.

He also suited up for the U.S. again at World Juniors. While playing in the Maple Leafs' home arena, Woll picked up two wins for Team USA, including a preliminary round victory against Canada.

"It was a really cool experience that I'm never going to forget. It was awesome to see how passionate the people were," he said. "I'm glad I got that first taste of hockey in Toronto."

While Woll continues to rise up the ranks, he hasn't forgotten his roots. For the past few summers, he has returned home to work Racine's hockey camps to help other young netminders develop their skills.

"Joseph is a tremendous role model," Racine said. "To have the success he's had and now that he's giving back, it's been beneficial for all the kids that are following him."

If Woll eventually goes on to play for Toronto, he will join Ben Bishop as current NHL goalies with St. Louis ties. While that number is slowly rising, every success story helps.

"I think anyone that has success out of St. Louis helps the hockey community. It gives these kids something to work for," Woll said. "I think we need to be with these young players and give back in the community as much as we can."

 

Issue: 
2017-07

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