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Change of sticks suits former UNH goalie Conklin

Special to the Union Leader

July 14. 2014 7:50PM
Ty Conklin of Breakfast Hill Golf Club follows his shot after teeing off in the 2014 State Amateur Championship at Stonebridge Country Club in Goffstown on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

GOFFSTOWN  -- Former goaltender Ty Conklin says he likes his summers, including a good amount of golf. These days, he plays often enough — and well enough — to have qualified for the New Hampshire Golf Association State Amateur Championship, which is taking place this week at Stonebridge Country Club.

Playing out of Greenland’s Breakfast Hill Golf Club — not far from his home in New Castle — he shot a 10-over-par 82 Monday in the first round of medal play at Stonebridge.

A two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist with the University of New Hampshire before embarking on an NHL career that saw him play for seven teams in 10 seasons, Conklin, 38, now has greater opportunity to catch up on a sport for which his hockey playing career left little time.

“I might have played four, five times maybe if we were on a road trip to Phoenix or Florida,” he said of his efforts to get some golf in during hockey season. “Guys on southern teams probably play a little more.”

Conklin, who also played in Europe and the American Hockey League during his 12 professional seasons, never played for a southern team, but he did play for plenty of others: the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings.

He retired after dividing the 2011-12 season between Detroit in the NHL and Grand Rapids (Mich.) in the AHL.

“I had to work my way up and down a couple of times, but I’m happy with it,” Conklin said. “It was a good career.”

So how does he compare the tee and green to facing a 100-mph slap shot?

“It’s a lot different being nervous in goal, for me — something I did my whole life, versus (stepping up to)that first tee,” Conklin said. “I’m not sure if I exactly know how to handle it yet.

“But it’s fun,” he said of his transition to competitive golf. “It’s fun to be nervous again.”

Are there connections between the mental stamina needed for golf and playing in the NHL?

“I’m sure there are, but I haven’t found them yet,” he said with a chuckle.

Though retired as a player, Conklin remains active in hockey, serving as goalie development coach and scout for one of his former teams, the Blues.

“I’m rarely in St. Louis. I travel around mostly,” he said. “The only time I’m there is for training camp.”

That will come soon enough, when the Blues report in mid-September. In the meantime, there’s more golf to be played, including in the State Am.

The second round of medal play is Tuesday, with the top 64 players advancing to match play on Wednesday. A good round today, and Conklin could be among the 64.

Golf Bruins/NHL College Goffstown