Cassie "Casper" Goyette #33 for the Connecticut Whale Pod! Photo by Kathy Wilson Goyette!

Cassie Goyette: Casper The Friendly Goalie

Cetacean Nation chatted with our #33, Cassie Goyette, one of the trio of amazing rookie goalies on the Pod last season. Before we got too far into our conversation, we wanted to clear something up with Cassie. And that would be her nickname. As is our wont at Cetacean Nation, we often give nicknames to players. Cassie was one of those players, and since her goalie partners were Wojo (Brooke Wolejko) and Sojo (Sonjia Shelly), it was not too much of a stretch to dub Cassie as Cujo. Especially since she is a gamer, and Cujo seemed like a good gamer handle. However, it is hard to compete with Casper The Friendly Goalie, or as her teammates and coaches call her, simply Casper. Of course that is her Twitter handle as well, and in the really fun "Tournament of the Twitter Handles that Dan Rice put together earlier this offseason, Cassie did very well! We offered her our congratulations and she replied

 “Thank you! I didn’t even know I was in it actually. I got a text one morning from Sam Walther telling me she voted for me, and I was like: What are you talking about? And she said: On Twitter! And then I saw it and I was like OMG! The round I got knocked out in was pretty close right up to the end, and I’m not mad to have lost to a handle like that because it’s also clever. I thought all the entries were pretty good. I’m just biased to mine, because I think it’s awesome. You have to understand the Instagram handle to get the Twitter handle, that’s the only thing. We discussed the Cujo nickname and Cassie said “It was a little weird at first, but then it kind of grew on me. I go by a lot of names, I’ll answer to any of them, honestly :) Casper is a nickname I’ve been trying to get going for awhile” she said laughing, “so I’m happy people re using it now”. We said we were going to be full on Casper from now on too, and she said I’m onboard! We’ll bring back Cujo every once and a while:) For a quick throwback! “ Sounds good to us...Casper!

Moving on,  not unexpectedly we were curious how and where Casper was dealing with the pandemic. She explained

 “I’m at home in good old Massachusetts. Our entire family is home right now, which is kind of nice. I know my Mom loves it, but sometimes we drive each other a little crazy. My Mom and Dad are working from home now, so we have to be pretty quiet most of the time until they get off work. My Dad’s office is on the main floor and my Mom has a folding tailgating table in their bedroom which is now her office. But I just sit in the basement all day:) Not all day, I go upstairs for water and stuff. My video games are down here, my workout area is down here, all I need is a bed really! I think we just have a stay at home order, I don’t think we’re on a complete lockdown, but our Governor is like: Stay home, please don’t leave your house or we’re going to have to shut down the state. “ 

Casper added “One of my neighbors is an ER nurse and she’s been out of her mind crazy busy, with work. We saw her the first time in awhile last week. There was a huge wind storm here, and we all lost power So me and my brother and my Mom went on a walk around the neighborhood. We finally stopped at my neighbor’s house because she was like: Hey, come on down, we’re sitting on the front porch, we have drinks and stuff. So we all walked down and on the the way back we saw her (our nurse neighbor) and just literally just stood there and clapped for her. I can’t even imagine how stressful that is, anybody doing that.”

She added “I’ve never had so much home cooked food than in this past month, it’s wild. My little brother was at school and he had to come home and he’s eating everything. I don’t cook, but I make chicken nuggets a lot though. It’s pretty easy, all you do is put ‘em in the oven.:) But sometimes you just don’t want to cook. The other day my Dad went to Wendy’s for lunch, just because he wanted to get out of the house for like five minutes. And, he didn’t want to eat another peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a ham sandwich. I’ve lost count of the amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve eaten.i love PB&J’s, I used to eat them at the rink all the time.” 

We wondered of course how Casper was mganaging her training in this unusual off season, She replied

 “My one brother is home, and he likes to workout too. So we kind of split the workout area. I usually get the earlier time and he usually gets the later time. It’s just a small little area. My Dad built it when we first moved into this house like ten years ago, and it hasn’t really been used. But now it’s getting so much use, because there are no gyms open anymore. I’ve been trying to work out everyday or every other day, depending on if it’s raining ot not, anf if I can go outside for a bike ride. I live in a cul-da-sac neighborhood that branches two ways, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to laps on my bike. And we’re connected to another side road that’s pretty long, so I can go ride my bike down that too. So when it’s not the weird New England weather, we got snow the other day and I was sixty the next day, so whenever it’s sunny I try to go outside. Walk around the neighborhood, play basketball, throw football in the front yard or go for a bike ride or something.”

Some of Casper’s frustrations came out on Twitter the other day, when she tweeted:

“Today I put my hockey bag in the back of my car, just to feel like I was going to the rink again #ImissHockey”

We thought that pretty much summed up how a lot of people were feeling these days, and she explained

 “I was surprised that so many people were liking it. I usually just retweet stuff and never tweet, because it never gets any attention. (follow Cassie on Twitter @TFriendlyGoalie and Instagram Casper-the-friendly-goalie) It kind of was just a fun thing. I was emptying my brother’s car, he bought a Camaro, so I’m taking over his old car. So I was planning on vacuuming it out, because we take his car camping, and we throw all the wood in the back when we get to the campsite, so there’s a lot of wood pellets everywhere! So I was going to vacuum it, and I opened it up and saw my hockey bag. And I just wanted to move it, because I hadn’t picked it up in awhile and I wanted to make sure I could still lift it!” , she said laughing. “And I also wanted to make sure it still fit in the back of the car, because it’s a Ford Escape. They can be bigger, but his is kind of a smaller one, so I wanted to make sure, The goalie bag is pretty big, so I wanted to see if it was going to fit. And then I just kind of threw it in there and I was like: We’re good going to the rink! :) I signed up to skate, because during the season I skated with my goalie coach in Massachusetts, so I signed up after the season ended, so I’d keep skating with him once a week. So I skated with him once and the Corona happened, so I haven’t been skating since then, and I’m kind of going stir crazy. I just want to go skate, I don”t even have to put equipment on, just give me skates. Might have to break into a rink! “

Casper has been with her goalie training organization for awhile, and we asked her how that came to be, and what her offseason trainng routine used to look like in normal times. Casper revealed

"When I was in school, and let’s say it was my freshman year, the summer going into my sophomore year, I wouldn’t stop working out. We would still have offseason lifts and I would still go to the gym in addition to that, both to keep in shape and keep myself busy. Because I like to workout, it helps me keep my sanity. When I would go home I would give myself a week, a week and a half off, before I started working. Then I would get into working out, and I would skate with Stop It during the summer (stopitgoaltending.com). They have a PGD (Professional Goalie Development) program that’s pretty good. They have a high school level program and a pro level one and a college level one for both male and female people. And it’s either Monday or Wednesday in the morning for an hour on a full sheet of ice with twelve goalies. And there’s like four or five stations, and there’s a bunch of goalie coaches and shooters. And it’s just working on a bunch of stuff, which was cool, I like it a lot. And that’s what I would do every summer. And I signed up for it again this summer, so I’m excited for that, it actually starts on my birthday in June (22nd) this year.

Casper added I’ve done Stop it ever since I started playing goalie, so I’ve been doing it for awhile. I probably should be branded at this point, because I started my career with a Stop It and I’m still doing Stop It :) I think in high school I did a difrent (goalie training) one, because there are different levels. I think the one I did that summer was both off and on ice, like 6:00 at night. It wasn’t on full ice, it was in a little rink and we would go skate for an hour and then we’d then go into the off ice workout place which is called EPS (edgeperformancesystems.com) in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and they would run us through a workout. And then when I went into college, I did the college level one, which is on the big ice. The college program doesn’t come with the off ice, which I’m fine with because I do that on my own.” 

Cassie with her parents at the season opener

When we interviewed our “other #33” our amazing Assistant Coach Laura Brennen after the season, she told us this about Casper

 “Casper played a huge role in helping me teach those new concepts and theories because she’s a huge student of the game and always trying to be better. She went to a goalie coach every week through Stop It Goaltending And it was great, because when I’m on the ice coaching the team I don’t have pads on, so if I’m trying to explain something just through words, I can have Casper do the demo, and it works out really well.”

Casper responded  “It’s a wonderful compliment, I didn’t know she said that. I’ll have to text her and say thanks! I love skating and learning new things on the ice, I love getting criticism basically.. I kind of became the demo goalie at some point. If we were skating, I would do the skating drill first so I could show Brooke and Sonjia I think. I didn’t intentionally go first every time, but now it makes sense. We would do the Iron Cross in one of the face-off circles, and I would always question Laura when she would say something, because she would use a different terminology than I would for the same thing. So I’d be ready to go, and I’d say wait a second, is this what you’re talking about? She’d be like, yeah, just go! “

 “Casper continued “I think it goes back to when I first became a goalie, because I started pretty late compared to most people. And Stop It was the only real goalie coaching I had through college until Sam came to Nichols. Because the goalie coaches we had were kind of absent most of the time or they didn’t help us. So Stop It was where I would get the most feedback, and it was kind of the only coaching I trusted. That was my only way to coach myself too, was through Stop It. Because I would get a lot of feedback and it would be goalie specific all the time! And I want to do it right and I want to do it better. “

Casper added “I think it was Brooke, because we were talking about the lateral release one day, and I don’t think she’d ever done it. We interrupted Casper and asked her to please explain the lateral release, and she told us “It’s basically a shuffle that turns into a butterfly. It’s a replacement for butterfly sliding, because butterfly sliding can be dangerous because it can put you in an awkward position really fast by getting you out of position. And the lateral release is a controlled shuffle butterfly. I remember showing Brooke how to do it one day. She didn’t know what it was and just didn’t know how to do it, which was kind of fun. It’s difficult for coaches to demo things. Even at Stop It, sometimes they wear knee guards under their pants so they can butterfly, and push around, instead of just dropping to their knees and shattering their kneecaps. But it easier if you have a goalie, it’s easier to visually see it if a goalie is doing it rather than a goalie coach. But even at Stop It, if we were doing a drill, I would do a practice run too after the goalie coach would demo it, just to make sure I wasn’t doing it wrong.” 

Back to what Laura said, Casper is a huge student of the game. Laura had praised her goalie group when we interviewed her, so we were curious of Casper’s impression of her first season, and what Brooke and Sonjia were like as goalie partners? She expressed

“It was a huge adjustment for me jumping from a really small DIII school into the professional hockey world in general. There was a big adjustment for me, just getting confidence, to play at that level I think. I would say it was a year of growth, as a goalie and a person. Just because I’ve never played at such a high level and I’d never been exposed to such a high level of play. And having three goalies on the team that are all pretty good at hockey is definitely something I wasn’t used to before either. Just definitely a year of growth. I would say it was a learning and growing experience and it was a very big adjustment because I also commuted most of the season from Massachusetts. I commuted to the rink at Nichols, but that was forty minutes away, and this was like 2 ½ to 3 hours at least, there and back, which was kind of different. As goalie partners, I think we all got along pretty well, we had a fun time. It was definitely a little weird at first, because I didn’t know either of them and they had played together before and knew each other. So I was kind of like the odd one out, but it was fun, and we all warmed up to each other pretty quickly. We’re all pretty easy going, and we kind of goof around a little bit when we’re on the ice, which I really liked. Because having fun is a big part of the game too! I’ve had a few goalie partners that are a little wonky, but what can you do? We all had fun and we were all really supportive of each other which was really nice. At practices me & Brooke would have this thing where if we were not doing so hot, we would just jump straight into, after a two minute shooting drill, into 3 on O’s or 2 on 1’s, or 2 on 0’s and just look at each other and go: Everything’s fine, everything’s fine! "

Casper laughed and added  "They (my teammates) were very supportive, a lot of fun. Just good people in general. I would fall all the time in practice too, so that was kind of a joke. We would be doing a hard lap, and I’d take it a little too close to the corner. There’s this one corner in Danbury that’s so bad, it’s the Zamboni door. It’s awful in that corner! Every practice,, I would just divot, and fall into the boards. Or, I would literally just be standing there or doing a warm-up skate for myself off to the side and I would just...fall. Just practicing (goalie moves) I guess :)! 

We asked about her experience the first game of the season in Danbury, where Casper had a large turn-out of supporters, and what that was like?

"It was cool, it was cool and weird. They didn’t really give us a lot of guidance on what the game day wa supposed to be like. I didn’t know time to be on the ice for warm-ups, I didn’t know when our off ice warm-up was, I didn’" know anything. I didn’t even know what time to get to the rink. I think I ended up texting Brooke and Sonjia: what time are you guys planning to get to the rink? I don’t know anything! It was fun, two of my friends actually came and surprised me at that game, which was super nice of them. It was kind of surreal because I never thought I’d be dressing in a pro hockey game, or playing for hockey, which is special. My parents come to every game, every time we had a home game, they would come. We’d stay in a hotel and spend the weekend, they’re very supportive. “

When Cetacean Nation asked Casper what her favorite memory of the season was, she didn’t hesitate a second and said

 “I think it was definitely stopping Allie Thunstrom on a breakaway! I thought she scored, so it was pretty cool afterwards that she didn’t. I think Doyle was the defenseman, and it literally was just a chip that bounced over her stick. Just a freak play and then she (Thunstrom) just took off. It was just like one of those moments. I went into the third period to play, and I hadn’t played in months. So it was very special to me, because I hadn’t played in awhile, and I did it pretty well. It kind of reminded me of Nichols, because it was just one of those plays, we’re losing, the games basically over, there’s less than a minute left and there’s a breakaway! Because that would happen at Nichols all the time. We’re already losing, the game’s lost and I’d be like: Gosh darn it! (More or less) I mean of course it’s Thunstrom, of course there’s less than a minute left in the game! I was just so happy to stop it, I was so nervous! I blinked and she was dangling me!”

Casper’s remarks led us to ask her if it was tougher to stop a breakaway in a shootout or a game? Casper considered that and offered 

“I think it’s easier to stop a breakaway that just kind of happens in a game. Because you’re already in the mentality of in the flow of the game. And when I’m playing, I’m not thinking either, so it’s just bang -bang, focus on the puck. I feel it’s easier to be more confident on a breakaway that happens in a game. You’re already in the flow, you’ve already built the confidence up throughout the game, rather than in a shootout, where for me, I feel I have too much time to think between each puck. In a breakaway in a game you just have to go, unless you’re on the blue line and everyone else is in the neutral zone, you can’t take your time with it. It’s a bang-bang play, it happens, you just kind of play the puck and stop it. But in a shootout they have time, they can do whatever they want, use patience, and it’s easy to overthink it.”

We thought it was pretty cool too! Allie is one of the top scorers and fastest skaters in the league. And side note: truth be told, we still acknowledge Grace as the winner of the fastest skater competition in the ASG. Casper agreed saying “I think it’s Grace too, I think they messed up both the speedometers, they swapped them..:)

We also asked if Cassie had done any coaching or clinics during the season, and her reply harkened back to Casper’s comments about her commute to Danbury.
 “Not really. We did a skating thing, I think it was the first week of the season, before we’d had a game, and that was really it. Bray would email us about clinics and ask if we were interested, but most of them are down in a Connecticut which is a bit far. Maybe in the future. I’m looking into it (coaching) but I’m not looking into it, because I’m not sure what I’m doing with my life, still.” she said laughing.

Season Opener in Danbury

And since Casper as you may recall, is an enthusiastic gamer, we asked her if she followed the Gamer Doc on Twitch.

"I’m a little familiar with her, I know she’s on Twitter, because I see her Tweets sometimes. And I tuned in to one or two of the Open Ice’s, I watched Lando’s (Elena Orlando) because she was on it. And I watched maybe one or two more. But Twitch was huge! I’m waiting for the league to do something with multiple players and have a video game tournament on Twitch or something. Because Twitch does this thing called Twitch Rivals, where they have a bunch of famous Fortnight players and they were playing with professional athletes.on teams, and it was a tournament. It was for charity, and people could donate to streams and stuff, and they raised money for a charity. But they had some professional football players, and think they had a few baseball players. There are a lot of games you could do it with, they’re not all super complicated. You could do Mario Kart Super Smash Brothers, anything really. I think it would be fun to watch. “ We think that does sound cool, and will pass along  that thought to the gamer Doc! 

We also asked Casper, as both a fan and athlete, if she thought that salvaging the remaining NHL and NWHL seasons, or trying to have a more normal 2020-2021 was more important to her? Her thoughts were

" Honestly, for the NHL, they should put it to bed. They should re-start with a new season. That could be a while, I think some sporting events won’t start until 2021. Nobody can predict it, it’s so tough to try to predict something like that. But I think they should just kind of scrap it and pick it up the next season.You have to take into account, we’ll use Braden Holtby for example, his contract is up July 1st. So that’s another interesting thing too, how are they going to deal with people’s contracts? If they restart the season does tha t mean your contract from last year moves up to the new season? And there’s so many logistics.”

And turning to the NWHL, Cassie spoke about the difficulties of holding the Isobel Cup at a later date, because the rosters would likely be different, and she postulated

"What happens if you have players from Europe that didn’t come back? Personally, I don’t think the one game is going to happen. Because teams right now are essentially focused on next season. There’s really not much you can do.” We asked her how long toI’m would take her for example, to get ready to play a game like that ? She replied  "Honestly, I would do a week of practice, and go for it. Maybe two weeks if people had to get back from wherever they were, Like if you were in MInnesota and went to Texas to quarantine. So maybe like one or two weeks practice, then go for it. Your going to sore after that game.”

We also spoke to Casper about the Whale's stated desire to bring back a solid core of players, and she stated “The way we started the year was a complete180 from the way we finished it. And that’s just a testament to all of us as a group. Most of us didn’t know each other and we had to get used to playing with each other, and the preseason isn’t that long either. So I just think the entire season was us trying to find our identity and learning to play with each other, finding a groove that we all fit. And I think bringing back the core players is ideal, because you don’t want to miss out on the chemistry we had at the end of the season, you want to continue that momentum.And that starts with bringing back the core players.”

Casper offered her comments  on the NWHL expanding to six teams with the addition of Toronto.  “I think it’s super exciting. I didn’t know they were expanding to Canada, but I speculated that they would.expand somewhere. Because they tried to do Toronto last year, and if that didn’t work out, I feel they would have expanded somewhere else, probably in the United States. But it’s super exciting because now you’re bringing in the Canadian market and that’s a huge hockey market. And maybe that opens up a second Canadian team one day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Canadian players already in the league look to sign with Toronto just because they can go home and play hockey. It’s still such a small league, players can play for multiple teams, it’s not out of reason if you’re not happy on one team to go to another team. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NWHL expands again next year. If they do, I would see ot being Pittsburgh or that lower area. They’d have to expand gradually to the west, because you can’t just jump to California because travel costs would be brutal."

Casper also weighed cin on the player pool, and had some very interesting comments about DIII “A lot of people think you have to play DI to go pro, which isn’t true, There’s a lot of good DIII players. Like me and Jane came from DIII programs, like Sam did at Hamilton. There’s tons of good DIII playersv that don’t get noticed because they are on smaller teams in smaller programs. It’s not just the DI players that can make it. She added “I think Plattsburgh should be DI along with Norwich. There are a few DIII teams that shouldn’t be DIII but that’s just my two cents. That’s my experience of playing against them at Nichols. :) Hallsie played at Holy Cross and they’re now DI. There are some schools classified as DI independent who only play DIII teams, which is kind of pointless.:) 

We finished up our fun interview with Casper with Five Fun Questions for her. Here they are, with her responses:

 Favorite Dunkin’ Beverage: My favorite Dunkin’ beverage is a medium frozen coffee with mocha. No whipped cream! It’s really good! Addictively good! Their vanilla chai is really good too!

Favorite Rink you’ve played in?  Foxboro Sports Center. It’s where I skate with Stop It, it’s where I skated in high school too. It’s the only rink I skate in if I’m not at school or with Connecticut.

Favorite pre game meal?  For my pre-game meal I really like to eat Quaker chewy chocolate chip granola bars, and Welch’s gummy fruit snacks. At Nichols we used to have them in our locker room all the time. We’d get pissed when the coaches bought us knock- offs . You know, you can have the name brand or then just a “food brand” ? You want Swedish Fish, not “Chewy Fish” :) I hate eating before games or working out, which is why I like small snacks.

Favorite post game meal?  If I go out to eat with my parents, I’ll usually get chicken Alfredo, I usually like to have something pasta-ish. Sometimes we would get pasta after home games at Nichols. So Chicken Alfredo or a chicken parm sub.

Coach vs Player, aka Rookie Casper vs Rookie Sam! Answer Me or Sam:

Who played more games you or Sam? "Sam"Wrong! it was you, 11 games to 5 games as rookies

Who played most minutes, you or Sam? "Me" Correct ! You had 49 minutes, Sam had 11:48

Who had the lowest GAA? "Me" Correct! Small sample size but you were at 7.50 & Sam was at 10.48

Casper enthusiastically agreed with Cetacean Nation that Sam was comeback player of  the year in the NWHL, as she had a terrific season for the Riveters. Casper added “I am so proud of her coming back and having a great season, it wa cool too because when we played in NJ we were on the ice together which was kind of cool. It’s not everyday you get to suit up against someone you look up to, and she’s a role model for me too, so it was like super cool.” Fins Up to that!

Cetacean Nation thanks our amazing #33 Cassie “Casper” Goyette, for her forthright, entertaining, and informative content. We had a lot of fun chatting with her and learned a lot. Fins Up and stay safe as you get ready for Season Six!

Cassie executing the lateral release! Photo by Kathy Wilson Goyette!