The New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins game last Sunday nearly prevented Jake Moniz from likely his only chance to play Division I college hockey.
Moniz, who is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, received a phone call from Wildcats men’s hockey coach Mike Souza last week with an offer to be the team’s backup goaltender against Clarkson University.
Mike Robinson, a senior from Bedford, was UNH’s only available goalie entering the game, with Jeremy Forman injured and David Fessenden in COVID-19 protocol. The Wildcats had 11 players on the injury/COVID protocol list last week.
Moniz, a Wakefield, Mass., resident and former Bishop Fenwick High of Peabody, Mass., netminder, practiced with the Wildcats when they were short-handed in goal around the holiday break last year but never dressed for a game.
Moniz, who plays intramural hockey at UNH, reluctantly rejected Souza’s offer. The Wildcats’ game against Clarkson was at 7:30 p.m. last Saturday, which conflicted with his flight to Miami to go to the Patriots-Dolphins game for his friend’s 21st birthday.
“I was torn between both decisions,” Moniz said.
Souza had already looked into seeing if any of the UNH club men’s hockey goaltenders were available. They weren’t.
“We were back to square one,” said Souza, who is also from Wakefield and learned of Moniz from another Wakefield resident — his friend and New York Rangers director of player personnel John Lilley.
After Moniz declined, Souza said he asked UNH athletic director Marty Scarano if he could see if UNH women’s hockey coach Hilary Witt could lend him a goalie from her team. Scarano thought that was a great idea, Souza said.
Meanwhile, Moniz found a way to suit up and still make the football game in Miami.
“While we’re vetting all kinds of options, the phone rings. It’s Jake Moniz,” Souza said. “He says, ‘Coach, I was able to change my flight. Is the offer still there?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Moniz filled out all the NCAA requirements paperwork on game day and made his Division I college debut with 36 seconds left in UNH’s 5-1 win over the Golden Knights.
With his family in attendance, Moniz made two saves in what was his first time on the ice in a month. He flew to Miami for the Patriots game at 9 a.m. the next morning.
Moniz said he had some nerves going into the Clarkson game but was more thrilled than anything for what he considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Even for the little bit of time that I was in there, I was more than excited and I tried to take in every second I could,” Moniz said.