Summit’s AJ Goddard named to Junior Olympic roller hockey team for Hawaii tournament July 11-14 | SummitDaily.com

Summit’s AJ Goddard named to Junior Olympic roller hockey team for Hawaii tournament July 11-14

Wren M. Arbuthnot
Special to the Daily

There is no shortage of great talent in Summit County for any sport, but we are known best for producing great winter athletes: skiers, snowboarders, a few ice hockey players.

That's exactly what makes this particular athlete so unique: AJ Goddard, a student at Summit Middle School, was recently named to the United States Junior Olympics Roller Hockey Team.

He began playing hockey four years ago when he lived in Denver. He started with roller hockey and took up ice hockey a years later. He sometimes plays as a skater, but he found his true calling is in the net as a goalie, which is where he will be playing at the Junior Olympics in Hawaii from July 11-14.

The young goalie started playing roller hockey in rec leagues before moving on to competitive travel teams. He currently plays with an elite Youth World Team, which is the roller hockey equivalent of AA or AAA hockey on ice. He also plays Ice hockey with the Summit Youth Hockey Association.

When asked which sport he likes better — ice or roller hockey — AJ replied, "I'm not really sure. They are both lots of fun in their own right, but most of the time probably ice."

Ice vs. pavement

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AJ says his preference comes down to the small differences between the two sports, like the amount of pinpoint control you have over your movements with ice hockey, and there certainly are plenty of nuances to roller hockey goaltending as it adapts to player demands.

He explains that one of the major differences between the two types of play is the ability to move laterally. On ice, even with skates, a goalie can slide left and right. This action is much more difficult on pavement.

The invention of a new system, called the "rollerfly," combines traditional skate wheels with tiny beads. These allow a goalie to slide side-to-side on pavement, mimicking the movement of ice. This technology helps him move on the street like he does on the ice, thereby making his training much more seamless between the two different styles.

He feels that his training as both an ice and roller goalie will help him succeed at the Junior Olympics level. He was chosen for the Junior Olympics national team by resume: Scouts took into consideration results from past performances, along with the teams and levels he played at for both ice and roller hockey.

"It was really a surprise to be selected," AJ said. "I had no idea that they were going to pick me, so it's really a great honor and I can't wait to be a part of it."

Another major difference between ice and roller hockey is the temperature of the rink. He knows all about playing in heat and humidity, as he has participated in roller tournaments throughout the southern states with his Denver-based team. He says that this type of play will adequately prepare him for games in the heat and humidity of the host location on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

He will tend the net for the U.S. team in a pool that includes the United States, Columbia, Australia and China, and, while you never know what will happen, he thinks that the U.S. team will be the one to beat, as he has either played with or against most of his Junior Olympics teammates.

The U.S. team takes to the pavement over the weekend of July 11-14 for a shot at gold at this international tournament, with one of Summit County's own backstopping for the national team.

Follow AJ at Jr. Olympics

Ready for international roller hockey action? Follow the progress of AJ and the U.S. junior squad as they pursue a Junior Olympics Championships with live results at http://www.aauhockey.org.