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Mac Haight's relationship with Steve Mastalerz dates further back than being teammates on the Massachusetts hockey team this season.
According to Haight, the two goaltenders first met six years ago through goalie coach Mike Buckley, who is now the goalie development coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins, when the two were at prep school.
The goalies stayed in contact with one another following that first meeting. Even while Haight was in juniors when Mastalerz was at UMass the last two years, Mastalerz was always there to give advice.
That sort of influence helped him make his decision to join the Minutemen as a recruited walk-on this season.
"It was nice to come in and know someone like Steve to help me out," Haight said. "Because I knew he was gonna help me out through the season and get me into that next level to be ready for college hockey."
It was never a matter of if Steve Mastalerz would attend the University of Massachusetts. Rather, it was a matter of if he would get an offer to play for its hockey team.
And once he got the official offer to play for the Massachusetts hockey team, it was a relatively easy decision.
The reason why the junior goalie from North Andover was so focused on attending UMass was because it was in his blood. His grandmother raised his father, Jim, 20 minutes away from Amherst and his brother, John, started out the tradition of the Mastalerz family attending UMass when he came to Amherst two years before Steve did.
The idea of playing for the Minutemen also had a comfort level attached to it since he knew one of the assistant coaches, Mike Buckley, whose specific job was to work with the goalies. Mastalerz, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, had worked with Buckley before and he was a "big influence" on why Mastalerz decided to come to UMass as well.
University of Massachusetts junior Steve Mastalerz has played like a No. 1 goalie at times.
As a sophomore, Mastalerz stopped 21 shots in a 5-2 upset of then-No. 2 Boston College. It was one of a handful of strong showings during his first two years that showed his potential in goal. But injury-fueled inconsistency prevented him from stringing those types of performances together last season, as neither he nor fellow sophomore Kevin Boyle could ever really seize that No. 1 role.Read more of UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz eager to hold on to No. 1 role