In hockey, the saying goes that a hot goalie can carry you a long way. Billy Palmer was that goalie for the Bishop Hendricken hockey team this year. And the Hawks reached quite a destination.
The junior became Hendricken's go-to net-minder this season and was in net every step of the way as the Hawks surged in the playoffs and beat Mount St. Charles to capture the third state championship in school history.
“I think the biggest thing he provided was stability,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer. “He had to beat out a couple of guys to get the job, but once he did, it really gave us a level of stability that we didn't have before. Stability breeds confidence, and everybody plays better when your goaltender is playing well.”
As a freshman, Palmer sat behind standout Shane Benjamin. When Benjamin left for junior hockey before his senior season, Palmer and classmate Mitch Proulx were given a shot. They alternated for much of the 2010-11 season before Palmer started to get more of the minutes this past season.
“There isn't much difference between either one,” Creamer said. “Mitch is a great goalie in his own right. Billy got hot at the right time. I sort of had a feel and went in that direction. He didn't let us down.”
In the championship series against Mount, Palmer made 34 saves in an overtime victory in game one. After Mount won 3-2 in game two, Palmer rose to the occasion again and made 21 saves in a 5-2 title-clinching victory. He was named series MVP.
“That's the goal – to win the state championship,” Palmer said. “And then beating Mount makes it even better. Every time I'm with those kids, we always talk about it. It's definitely going to wear off at some point, but I'm never going to forget it.”
And Palmer went out on top. Though he has one year left at Hendricken, he plans to leave the hockey team to play for the Boston Advantage in the Midget Triple A ranks. His ultimate goal is to play Division I college hockey.
“I know he has high aspirations for himself,” Creamer said, “and I think he's going to be really successful.”