Justin Schuver | Wednesday, November 19, 2003
The Irish came into the 2003-04 season with an early question mark in goal, with last year’s starter Morgan Cey still trying to recover from an off-season surgery. David Brown turned that question mark into an exclamation point.All the Ontario native has done since coming to Notre Dame is break Cey’s consecutive shutout minutes streak, set a record for most consecutive shutouts, help the Irish to an upset of the No. 1 team in the nation and earn a selection as the Hockey Commissioner’s Association’s National Rookie of the Month.And all this before his first final exams.”Coming in as a freshman and having Morgan here as the starter for the last two years, you just want to come in and show what you can do to the best of your abilities and coach gave me the shot to go in there and I’ve been really grateful for the opportunity to get in there and show what I’m able to do,” Brown said.It took a while for Brown to get going, though. After his first start Oct. 11 in a 3-1 road loss to Ohio State in which Brown made 36 saves, Brown appeared in Notre Dame’s home opener Oct. 17 against Bowling Green as a replacement for sophomore Rory Walsh.Brown did not play particularly well, giving up two goals on nine shots in the 5-3 loss.”I need better play from my goalies,” Irish head coach Dave Poulin said after the game.Brown received the start the following day on the road against that same Bowling Green team. He made 40 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Falcons. The following weekend, he made 27 saves in an upset of then-No. 1 Boston College, beating the Golden Eagles in their home opener before a crowd of 7,884 spectators.”We thought that would be a good opportunity for us to show what we could do,” Brown said. “We thought it would be a good way to get the season off to a good start and just kind of establish our name throughout the league.”In his next start, Oct. 31 at home against Nebraska-Omaha, Brown had another shutout – breaking Cey’s previous Notre Dame streak of two consecutive shutouts – making 22 saves in the 2-0 win over the Mavericks.He also broke Cey’s previous consecutive minutes streak of 147:19 in that game.Brown’s streak would continue until Michigan State’s Jim Slater finally scored against him in a 3-3 tie Nov. 8. Brown’s streak ended at an incredible 193:27.The freshman’s incredible string of scoreless minutes earned him his first national honor as well, as he was named National Rookie of the Month for October. He was also named the CCHA Rookie of the Week for the weeks ending Oct. 19 and Nov. 2.”Being National Rookie of the Month was more than I ever could have imagined,” the soft-spoken Brown said. “Having that many accolades and getting that much recognition is just an unbelievable honor.”It shouldn’t be surprising that Brown has been able to set records right away, considering who he admires most as a professional goalie.That would be none other than Patrick Roy, the winningest goaltender in NHL history.”When I was younger I started out in hockey school and I actually stopped playing for a year,” Brown said. “But then I went and I met Patrick Roy down in Toronto, and I was there with my dad and one day I turned to my dad and said, ‘I want to do what Patrick Roy does.’I ended up being pretty good at it and just stuck with it for the remainder of my career.”Brown said that he models his style of goaltending after Roy and other Quebec netminders with similar styles, like Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastian Giguere and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur.Unlike some of those professional goaltenders, who have become infamous for strange superstitions (Roy would routinely talk to his goal pipes during stoppages of play), Brown said he just tries to keep things simple.”I used to [have superstitions] but not anymore, I’ve kind of tried to shake it off,” he said. “The main thing I do before every game is I just become really quiet, don’t really talk to anyone, listen to my headphones.”I always tape my sticks every game, but I do have to pay attention to that, I try to make that perfect.”Considering his near-flawless play so far in his career, it probably shouldn’t be a shock to find out Brown is a perfectionist.