April 6, 2004

A Malvern Prep goalie stops any doubts by stopping pucks.

Bryan Mountain plays at a constant disadvantage as a 5-foot-4 goaltender. But he fights back. He compensates for his lack of size with a quick glove, deft stick work, razor-sharp technique, and superb skating. The diminutive Malvern Prep freshman frequently gets reminded about his lack of size, but he has been a sterling performer this season for the Friars. Malvern Prep made history with its fourth straight Flyers Cup Class AAA championship, beating La Salle, 5-1, at the Wachovia Spectrum on March 29. Mountain made 30 saves to preserve the victory and earn the championship MVP award. The 130-pound Mountain is 16-2-1 this season, with four shutouts and a 1.51 goals- against average. He has a 91.6 save percentage. Mountain’s success over La Salle was another challenge in a series of challenges this season. Goalies today, even at the high school level, are very large. So opposing teams see him in the crease and salivate. They think they can beat Mountain by going high, which is why he instinctively raises his glove when opposing teams enter the Malvern zone. Mountain gets called “Small Fry” and other things during the course of a game. The name-calling tends to taper off, however, as the game wears on and Mountain earns the respect of

opposing teams by making impossible saves, as he did several times at the outset of the Flyers Cup championship. “Being vertically challenged, it forces me to be perfect,” said Mountain, 15, who lives in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County. “My depth has to be perfect, my overall positioning, my angles have to be perfect. I can’t afford to make the mistakes someone 6-foot-2 can make. I know if I do, the puck will go in the net. Especially for me, because I’m kind of small, the puck will go in the net.” It’s a lot of pressure to carry each game. But Mountain usually goes through an intense 20-minute stretch before games, and when he takes the ice, he likes to be relaxed and repeat a little saying that’s worked for him: “If I let one goal in, that means I shouldn’t let in two. “Pressure is the whole point of the position,” Mountain said. “I love the pressure, I love to be the guy who’s the quarterback calling plays, and it comes down to you at the end.” Mountain, the son of sports/ entertainment agent Steve Mountain, began playing hockey at age 5. He started as a forward on a team where the goaltending would constantly rotate among players. When it was Mountain’s turn, he instantly fell in love with the position. Around the same time he began playing hockey, he took up karate, earning

a third-degree black belt. His agility and body movement have some basis inhis karate background. But what really sets Mountain apart, what makes him special for such a young player, are his legs. They react quickly to shots, and Mountain has the agility and strength to rebound quickly after a first shot. “Bryan’s legs are the phenomenal part of his game,” said Father Ed Casey, Malvern’s assistant coach. “He has the fastest legs I’ve ever seen in a goalie. He’ll make a save and then get right up on his feet. His legs are so quick. The only pair of legs that I’ve seen do that was the late [Flyers goalie] Pelle Lindberg; I mean, that’s how quick this kid’s legs are.” Some will continue questioning his size, but this undersized goaltender was the first freshman to win a Flyers Cup AAA title in 10 years since Germantown Academy’s Sam Weiner beat Haverford High in 1994. Mountain has faced 359 shots this year and, according to Casey, may have let in one soft goal. “I’d say that’s pretty good,” Casey said. “Bryan knows there’s no sense he’s going to win any arguments about his size,” Casey added. “Ultimately, Bryan lets his play do all of his talking. He utilizes all of his talents. I like to say there’s 90 other high school teams in this area that would like this kid in their net.”

By Joe Santoliquito
The Philadelphia Inquirer