WINSLOW — Being a goalkeeper is not for the timid. Alex Berard found that out as a wide-eyed freshman.

Sometimes when Winslow needed a boost on offense, the coach would move his senior goalie up to help out the offense and send Berard in to hold down the fort in net. Berard wasn’t merely getting his feet wet in blowouts, either.

“It was all pressure situations,” Berard said. “It would either be a tie game or we would be down one and we’ve got 10 minutes in. I held my own, for the most part.”

Berard looked and felt almost like a grizzled veteran when Aaron Wolfe became the Black Raiders’ new head coach and gave him the full-time starting job as a sophomore.

“Goalies have the most pressure on them,” Wolfe said. “They have all of the pressure on them in any situation. They can make a mistake and a ball can go in. He doesn’t shy away from the pressure.”

That doesn’t mean Berard is immune to the pressure.

Last year, as a junior, he allowed just two goals during the entire regular season. That included a streak of 10 consecutive shutouts.

Wolfe said as the streak went on, it became apparent Berard and the rest of the defense were more concerned with putting up another zero than just playing the game. When they finally did give up a goal, Berard said, it was like a weight was lifted off their shoulders.

“I was upset, but then again, the pressure just kind of drained right out of me,” he said.

Berard would rather turn the tables and put the pressure on anyone trying to score on him or beat him to a ball in or near his area.

“He’s as good as anyone I’ve ever seen at coming out of his net,” Wolfe said. “He clears a lot of stuff that some goalies won’t get to. And he’s improved over the last couple of years. There really isn’t anything I would say is a weakness. There’s not one type of shot that he has a hard him with.”

“It’s just being aggressive, communicating with the team and not being afraid to let yourself go,” said Berard, who has honed his game at soccer camps in Presque Isle and at Colby and Thomas college. “The key thing is to not be afraid to dive and coming out for balls and things like that. I’m trying to do that as much as a I can.”

The top scorer on Winslow’s hockey team last year, Berard credits his background in that high-contact sport with making him fearless on the pitch.

The Black Raiders are 5-1 this year with three shutouts. They have allowed just three goals, no more than one in any single game. Yet Berard and Wolfe believe Winslow’s defense is still a work in progress

“We have Braden (Maillet) in front of me, who’s a senior this year, and Harrison (Clark) and Cody Doughty and Connor Wildes little brother (Michael) and we’re mixing some kids back there,” Berard said. “It’s not the same as last year but it’s still working as last year. We’ve got a few little bugs, but we’re fixing them. We’ve still got the second half of the season.”

Eventual Eastern B champion Camden Hills has eliminated Winslow in the regional semifinals each of the last two years. To clear those obstacles this year, Winslow has more work to do, Berard said.

“We feel like we could be one of the top teams in B East,” Berard said. “We’ve got a lot of depth, which helps a lot in the big games. We had a little mental error (in a 1-0 loss) at Maranacook, but we can play with anybody.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

rwhi[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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