I know this is the day when I should be wrapping up Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and getting psyched along with everyone else about a Game 7, but during last night's game news came down that probably doesn't hit on most of your radars about the passing of someone who I had the pleasure to watch quite a bit here at home and monitor his career from afar.
In the heights of Game 6, I broke the news on Twitter that former RPI goalie standout and 2000 Los Angeles Kings 5th Round pick Nathan Marsters was killed in a car accident. This morning, the details of the accident became available to me and it's an even bigger gut-punch to read the information.
Nathan Marsters at RPI (courtesy of rpihockey.net)
I can't say that I knew Nathan personally and I only know him as someone on the ice who always impressed me with his playing ability for teams that sometimes failed to support him with the goals needed to win. A good friend of mine blogging for the St. Cloud Times offers a a better and more personalized view of Nathan Marsters.
It pained me to try to reach him as best as I could while he's on the move supporting our country in Iraq and proved why sometimes technology while helpful doesn't offer the personal touch necessary to pass along terrible news.
Marsters was a four-year starter during his time in Troy, NY with the RPI Engineers, a credit to his game. At 6'4" 200 he was a big, lanky goaltender and presented an intimidating figure on which opposing shooters had to deal with.
His tenure in Troy saw him put up stellar numbers three out of his four seasons (his junior year being the lone hiccup) and his senior season he saved the best for last finishing with a 21-13-1 record with a .922 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against, earning career marks in wins and goals against that year.
After college, Nathan became one of the many uncredited unknowns that move on to journeyman careers in the minor leagues hoping to hone his game and catch on in the AHL and eventually the NHL.
Round about 2006, Marsters got the call while playing for the Portland Pirates, then a Mighty Ducks of Anaheim affiliate. It would be a brief moment and there wouldn't be any time seen on the ice, but the Ducks thought enough of him to call him up while Jean-Sebastien Giguere was out with an injury and Marsters dressed as the backup goalie for Game 1 of Anaheim's Western Quarterfinal game against Calgary.
One cup of coffee had and in playoff time no-less, not a bad credit for the résumé. That 2005-2006 season in Portland for the Pirates, he went 23-9-2 with a 3.10 GAA and .900 save percentage. Marsters would get one more turn with Portland the follow season but for only a few games. From there, he moved on to the ECHL and this past season saw some work in the German Professional League playing in nine games for the Krefeld Penguins.
That's the rough road of being a professional hockey player and the part of Nathan's story that really brings this all home for me. He was a guy just about my age trying to do whatever it is that he can to make it stick and to make it count and maybe catch lightning in a bottle and in one, horrible instant it's done and over with.
For Nathan, he was trying to be one of those guys that I hope to someday write about on the big scene and going anywhere he could just to keep playing.
To keep trying.
Hearing of this loss has really thrown me for a loop for a handful of reasons which would be immensely disrespectful to bring up here. For now though, it's time to remember one of hockey's fallen and honor him.
Wondering why there's nothing new? That's because you can find me at: WWW.GROSSMISCONDUCTHOCKEY.COM