How I Got Here: Michael Bussanich ’25

How I Got Here: Michael Bussanich ’25

Goaltending for a Division I club ice hockey team is a childhood pipe dream come true.

My dad took me to see the New York Rangers play the New Jersey Devils when I was 6 years old. Henrik Lundqvist was the Rangers’ goalie. His play was so athletic and he made a lot of flashy saves. I knew it was what I wanted to do. When I got home, I begged my mom to get me into a class to learn how to ice skate.

When I had my first skating lessons, I fell a lot. I wanted to immediately skate like a hockey player but my instructor reminded me that I had to learn the basics first.

In my youth league, I volunteered to play goalie as much as I could. I liked being the one in front of the net — between the pipes — it’s the last line of defense. In my first game ever, the team won and I got a shutout.

When I was deciding what college and team to play for, I wanted academics to be a priority, which made TCNJ’s club team a great choice. TCNJ has a history of having a competitive team — winning the conference’s Colonial Cup four straight times at one point. I want to do what I can to help us win another championship.

After years as a Division II club team, TCNJ made the jump to Division I this season. It’s exciting being a part of that challenge. The teams we’re facing are faster and stronger. We’ve adjusted well to the transition.

Our first win in Division I was against Rutgers and it was special. We improved our practice habits and our hard work paid off. We followed that up with a victory over a very good Syracuse team, making that our biggest win of the season so far.

I’m what’s called a butterfly goalie, meaning when a puck comes to me, I drop to my knees and react with my hands and legs to make the save. This style also allows me to kick the puck to the side or use my stick to guide it into the corners.

Being 6’4”, I need to keep my hips mobile to help me when I’m playing. I do yoga for about 45 minutes a day. I need to make sure I’m taking care of my body and stretching to keep injuries away.

You can make or break the game as the goalie. You can be blamed for a loss or praised for a win. I like being an important piece of the team.

Picture: Bill Cardoni

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