Loveday gaining more confidence playing at Shattuck

Dan Falloon

Mark Loveday is becoming as sharp as a Sabre at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
The local goalie just completed his first year at the prestigious hockey school, playing in the Bantam ‘A’ program.
Loveday said that even though he didn’t qualify for the Tier 1 team, he was able to regroup and put up a solid season.
“I was a little disappointed at first that I didn’t make Tier 1 there,” the 13-year-old son of Brad and Marcy Loveday admitted.
“But I decided that I’d step it up, show my coach on Bantam ‘A’ that I’ll do better.
“I’m happy with my season.”
Loveday played in 33 games for the Sabres, posting a 21-6-3 record, a 1.74 goals against average, and a .904 save percentage.
He said he’s difficult to beat along the ice, which is his top asset between the pipes.
“I’d say when I’m down low, I don’t really get scored on too, too much,” Loveday remarked.
He also is able to put together strong performances when his team is struggling to score goals. His most notable example came in Shattuck’s final game of the season against SSJ from Quebec.
“I don’t really give up that easy in the game,” Loveday stressed. “If we’re down, I keep battling, contending hard.
“That’s what we needed sometimes.
“Our last game of the season, we were down 3-1, we were getting outshot heavily, it was about 40-20 by the end of the game, and we ended up coming back,” he recalled.
“We won 5-3 at the end of the game.”
That win also stood out to Sabres’ coach Des Christopher, who felt Loveday put his best foot forward against a premier opponent.
“We played a real top team from Quebec right at the tail end of the season, and he [Loveday] played exceptional for us,” lauded Christopher.
“He kept us in the game for a long time until we could score a few goals, and we ended up beating them 5-3.”
Although the SSJ game was a highlight, Christopher was proud of Loveday all the way through the season.
“Mark had a solid year,” he noted. “He had great numbers.
“He’s a calm goalie, he’s a competitive goaltender with good size, and his positioning is very good, as well,” Christopher added.
Loveday felt his strong season-ending performance was a bit of a trend for him. He had put together solid performances leading up to that game as the Sabres put up three convincing wins against the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals as the end of the year approached.
“I found that a little bit easier doing it here and around the end of the season, I was starting to pick my game up a little bit,” he enthused.
“We went on a road trip down to Milwaukee, and in three games I only let in one goal.
“I felt really, really confident and I just kept telling myself that I’ve got to keep doing my best, and I’ve got to do that, and I’ll be that much better. . . .
“I’ve just got to keep pushing myself like that,” he stressed.
Those performances were a confidence boost for the 5’9 goalie, who acknowledged having a tough time with nerves early on in the season.
“My mental toughness for the game, too, that wouldn’t be one of my stronger points, either,” Loveday admitted.
“That’s something I’m going to need to work on. I doubt myself and my abilities a little bit more than I think I should.
“I feel I’m a good goalie when I’m talking to people, but when it comes to game time, I don’t know what it is but I start to doubt myself a little too much.”
Loveday felt he’s on the way to finding the right mindset going forward, and has been able to get himself thinking positive thoughts going into games.
“I just keep putting it in my head that I’m not that bad. I try my hardest in practices,” he remarked.
“I think of games where I do really good. I prepare myself like that all the time.
“I’ve been starting to do that a little bit more over the season.”
Loveday also was surprised at the shock of living away from home for the first time, conceding he took a little while to settle in to the new lifestyle.
“It was a lot harder than what I thought it would have been for the first couple of months,” he recalled.
“My parents were bugging me, saying I was going to get homesick when I was down. I said, ‘No, no, I wouldn’t do that. I’m ready to go.’
“[But] when I left, I realized I was more dependent on them than I thought I was. It was different.”
However, he said that as he started to make friends and get into the swing of life away from home, the transition began to get a bit easier.
“The way Shattuck has it set up is we’re so busy all the time, too, the mind is basically just always set on hockey and schoolwork,” he explained
“I didn’t really have too much time to get that homesick feeling anymore.”
In terms of fundamentals, Loveday felt his biggest area for improvement is his glove hand, but added he’s been working hard to shore up that dimension of his game.
“I’ve got a couple friends down here, and when they’re shooting, I ask them, just keep shooting there,” he reasoned.
“They’ll do that for me, they help me.”
Loveday again will play at the Bantam level next season, and has the opportunity to jump up to Tier 1 since one of the two goalies on that team is moving up to Midget.
Christopher feels that with a strong showing, a promotion for Loveday could be in order.
“He’ll have to work hard this summer and have a good tryout next year to make the top Bantam team,” the coach said.
“And then he goes into the Midget pool of goalies, which is also strong, the year after.
“He’s on the right path,” Christopher continued.
“There are some things he just needs to work through with experience being a young goalie, but he has a very good skill set and he’s coming along just fine.”
Loveday dreams of playing professionally, but at this point is taking his future ambitions a little more slowly, hoping he can get an education while playing the sport he loves.
“Pretty much just like any kid, I want to make it to the NHL,” said Loveday. “I know that’s hard. Lots of kids don’t really do that.
“My biggest goal is to make [NCAA] Division I hockey and then take it from there,” he reasoned.
“[I’ll] push myself that much further and then maybe play professional hockey.”