Goaltender trades skates for wheels at Temple University

This article was written for my Sports Writing class at Temple University.
John Mehler started every game for the Temple Owls in 2011-12. (NCRHA)

John Mehler started every game for the Temple Owls in 2011-12. (NCRHA)

Hidden away in a dark studio on the first floor of Annenberg Hall, Temple senior John Mehler idled his time away on a computer.

The broadcast major spends most of his time here as the sports anchor on Temple Update, the university’s student-run newscast.

But Mehler is more involved with sports than just on TV. He is also the goaltender for Temple’s roller hockey club.

“It was something I looked for in a school,” Mehler said. “I wanted to make sure I could still play hockey. Obviously education comes first, but it was a plus for a school to have a hockey team as well.”

In Temple’s case, it has an ice and roller hockey team. Mehler, a native of Cherry Hill, N.J., played in both through high school, but made the decision to play roller hockey in college.

“It was too expensive to play ice hockey for Temple, so roller hockey was the next best thing,” Mehler said. “I definitely enjoy ice hockey a lot more, but making the full transition to roller hockey wasn’t too bad, especially since I had played for a few years in high school.”

The biggest difference for Mehler is the inability to slide from post-to-post like on ice. Goaltending in roller hockey requires more lunging for him, he said.

The 22 year old is no stranger to transitions since he hasn’t always been tending net.

“I gave it a try playing as a forward in high school my first two years,” Mehler said. “I volunteered to be a goalie my junior year because we wouldn’t have had a team if we didn’t have a goalie. I just decided to stay with goaltending.”

He honed his skills as a goaltender the summer before his junior year of high school at a summer camp.

“It was a week long, five hours a day of playing goalie,” Mehler said. “It had a lot of past NHL players and professional goalies to help us. It was definitely worthwhile. That’s where I learned everything.”

With Mehler in the net for all 21 games this season, he posted a record of 9-10-2 with a 4.43 goals-against average and .828 save percentage, which was ninth overall in the 15-team Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association.

“Mehler had his good and bad moments,” said senior forward Jason Altman, 21. “After all, he is only human. The days he was playing well, you could count on him to make the big saves. He kept us in a lot of close games we played in.”

His good days were enough for Temple to make regionals in its second year as a Division I team.

“Johnny was outstanding during regionals,” said senior defenseman Ben Hovne, 22. “We had confidence in him every time we stepped onto the rink, and that allowed us to play our best. He bailed us out countless times. With him in net, we always had a chance to win.”

The team made it through the bracket round, but lost its first single-elimination game, 4-2, against Towson March 3.

It was tough to swallow for Mehler.

“We were probably two points away from making nationals,” Mehler said. “That’s the one thing that I regret is not making nationals my entire career here.”

Despite never reaching nationals, the former ECRHA All-Star has fond memories of his years on the team.

“Going back to my sophomore year, we beat Neumann for the first time in club history,” he said. “It was one of our first games of the year and our coach and our whole team celebrated as if we had just won a championship.”

With the season over, Mehler is focused on graduating in December. His goal is to become an anchor or field reporter for a TV station, but has hope he can still find the time to continue playing.

“Men’s league is definitely an option,” Mehler said. “It’s expensive to be a goalie, so if I have to keep on replacing my equipment, it’s going to cost me a lot. If my hours permit it, it would be great to get in there, even for just a game a week, playing an hour a week.”

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Categories: College Sports, Roller Hockey, Sports

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