By KEN SCHOTT
SCHENECTADY — It was a busy offseason for Union senior goalie and Niskayuna native Colin Stevens.
While still basking in the glow of winning the NCAA hockey title last April, Stevens got a two-week glimpse into what life could be like as a pro hockey player, as he attended the prospect development camps of the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.
“Obviously, it’s a good experience, getting a sense for what it’s like at that next level,” he said the Dutchmen’s media day Oct. 3 at Messa Rink. “I can use some of what I learned in those camps and apply it to the year this year. I’m glad I got the opportunity to go, but I’m glad to be back here.”
The biggest thing Stevens learned was how much faster the game is at the pro level as opposed to the college level.
“I got a sense for the speed,” he said. “Every time you jump a level, it just seems there’s that half-second you have to adjust, and that it’s quicker.”
Stevens attended the Rangers’ camp first. After that was done, he headed to Florida. There was no time to rest.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I hadn’t skated too much in the summer leading up to those camps. It was good for me to get on the ice at that level. I didn’t have too much trouble going back-to-back.”
It was tough for Stevens to choose which camp he liked the best.
“They were both very good,” he said. “We were treated really well at both camps.”
In his first year as a starter last season, Stevens led the Dutchmen to the NCAA title. He was 28-4-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and six shutouts. He won the Ken Dryden Award as ECAC Hockey goalie of the year.
On Oct. 3 he was named to the Let’s Play Hockey Mike Richter Award watch list. The Richter Award goes to the top college goalie in the country.
Stevens got off to a good start in the Oct. 5 exhibition game against the University of Prince Edward Island. He stopped all 18 shots he faced in just over 31 minutes of playing time as the Dutchmen won, 6-3.
The Dutchmen open the regular season Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. when they host American International in a non-conference game. The NCAA title banner, along with the ECACH regular-season and tournament championship banners, will be unfurled before the game.