By Matt Calamia (Twitter)
Earlier this year, the Chicago Blackhawks captured headlines by opening the 2013 season without a regulation loss for 24 games, thus cementing themselves as part of one of the greatest streaks in NHL history.
Now, though, imagine a team not losing a single game — overtime or regulation — for another 18 contests.
Rangers forward prospect Steve Fogarty and his teammates on the 2011-12 Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League can not only imagine it, they can say they were apart of it, as they rang off 42-consecutive wins from November through March en route to a Canada Junior-A championship.
“It was fun. We were all excited,” Fogarty told BlueshirstUnited.com of the season, in which he tallied 33 goals and 81 points in 60 games. “I’ve never been on a team where a group of guys came together like that. We kind of used [the streak] as motivation and we might as well make the most of it. It was a remarkable team and a team I’ll never forget.”
Fogarty, 20, did not go the conventional hockey route after completing his high school career with the Edina Hornets in Minnesota, which included a state championship in his junior year. The forward had committed to play his college hockey at the University of Notre Dame, but was urged by the school to spend a year in B.C. to hone his game.
The 2011 third-round pick said he never planned on taking that path after high school, but now called it “one of the greatest years of my development so far,” as he was awarded the opportunity to play with several fellow Minnesota players, including Anders Lee, who earlier this year made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders. Fogarty said seeing players like Lee breakthrough to the NHL is motivating and shows players who opt to take the route he took can still find success at hockey’s highest level.
Fogarty, who said he hopes to model his game after Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, said it was a “big step” going from the BCHL to Notre Dame and the NCAA this past season thanks in large part to a faster game pace and the increased competiveness of schools in the league. “There’s really no weak teams,” Fogarty said of the NCAA.
Fogarty, who was born in Pennsylvania and moved around the world, including a stop on Egypt, before settling in Minnesota, posted five goals and 10 points in 41 games for the Irish as a freshman.
Fogarty, who described himself a two-way center with “strong hockey instincts,” said his freshman season was an “adjustment,” and that he hopes to develop a more consistent game has he continues to mature.
“I wanted to make a bigger impact as a freshman,” Fogarty said. “The coaching staff gave me the opportunity to play in every game. I took advantage of it in some games but in others I was inconsistent. I think I learned a whole bunch and developed as a player. I just can’t wait until next season. I have so much motivation to have a better year.”
Fogarty, who was invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp last season, said he views the Rangers’ track record of allowing their players to develop in college before bringing them up as a positive.
“Seeing guys like Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan, a guy I kind of idolize — they like giving the young guys a chance,” he said. “It gives you motivation that if I keep working hard, one day that might be a possibility.”
While Fogarty has plans to return to Notre Dame next season, he said he can’t help looking down the road to what he hopes leads to Broadway and the Rangers.
“It’s hard not to look at the long term,” Fogarty said. “My goal is to be in the NHL and specifically for the New York Rangers. I just want to contribute the way I know I can … and do the little things right.”