By Dan Guttenplan
---- — The Amesbury hockey team is off to its best start since 2005, and a big reason for the team’s success is the play of sophomore netminder Jake Harlow.
The 5-foot-7, 125-pound goaltender has made all eight starts for the Indians, posting a 5-1-2 record with a 1.75 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. Last month, he was named MVP of the Haverhill Holiday Tournament’s Palm Division after he led Amesbury to a 2-1 victory over Stoneham in the championship game. Harlow made 39 saves in the win.
Harlow granted The Daily News an interview yesterday as he prepared for tonight’s showdown against rival Newburyport at Haverhill’s Twin Rinks.
Did you play at all last year as a freshman?
“I played one game and another period.”
You must have been nervous heading into this season as the starter?
“I was nervous the first game. My confidence has grown throughout the season, and now I have a lot of confidence in the team.”
Are you surprised by Amesbury’s strong start to the season?
“No, I knew we had the talent last year, and we grew as a team. I know there’s enough talent this year, we just have to work hard at practice and come out strong.”
Was there a moment during the season when you felt the team became a championship contender?
“I don’t think we’ve found that yet. We’re still an average team. We’re not above anyone. We haven’t proven ourselves. The game (tonight) will give us a chance to prove ourselves against a top team.”
What do you expect the atmosphere to be like (tonight)?
“It’s Newburport. It’s different than any other game. It’s intense, nervewracking. We’ll play harder to win. We’ll go at them harder.”
Are there moments during a hockey game when you get nervous?
“I would say a tie game in the third period gets really nervewracking. But I have confidence in my team, so I don’t get too nervous.”
What are your strengths as a goaltender?
“I’m quick. I stop the first shot, and I stop the second shot. I don’t let the other team get to me; I stay focused.”
What do you need to work on the most?
“Some height would be nice. Probably communicating more with the defensemen and my play out of net, my passes.”
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for being in the net?
“I play for the U16 Seacoast Spartan Elite team. I go to the gym all the time.”
Is there a shot location that gives you the most trouble — like the five hole?
“I don’t think anywhere. It depends on the situation and the shooter.”
Who has been the most skilled player you’ve faced this year?
“One of the kids on Masco (Mike Castro). He’s small and quick. He gave us trouble.”
How much would you estimate you spend on equipment each year?
“I just got new pads; they were $1,600. I have the same pads as Tukka Rask. Each season, I’d probably say I spend around $1,000 to $2,000 on equipment. I just got a new paint job for my helmet, and that was pretty expensive.”
Who is your favorite NHL player?
“Either Henrik Lundqvist or Jonathan Quick.”
Do you play any other sports?
Is it true goalies have quirky personalities?
“I’m more of a fun kid. I don’t always take things seriously. I always look at the positive side of things.”
What type of skates do you wear?
“Bauer One 100.”
When was the last time you went to a hockey game as a fan?
“I went to a Bruins game the day after Thanksgiving.”