It’s the kind of story sports fans love: local boy does good — even if he isn’t “doing good” locally anymore.
Barry Goers grew up in the Philadelphia area and played hockey for both Council Rock High School North and the Junior Flyers. He’d often take the train into the city after school and meet his father to attend Flyers games. On nights when they didn’t see a live game, they were more often than not, watching them on TV.
“Most nights, I would watch the games on TV and my dad would always tell me to watch certain players, and he would make observations about things for me to work on.”
Whether it was those observations that helped Goers work on his game, or what he learned on his own from firsthand experience, he was well-poised to enter the Eastern Junior Hockey League upon graduating high school. He joined the Green Mountain Glades in Vermont, and had a terrific two years with the team, racking up 64 points in 91 games.
Goers stated that leaving the Philadelphia area after high school to play junior hockey was the best development for his hockey career, and what enabled him to move on to play college hockey.
“The biggest thing for me playing in juniors was the off-ice training and weightlifting, where I was able to become much stronger and faster on the ice,” Goers said. “Also, the schedule of playing 60-some games and focusing more on hockey than on school allowed me to really grow as a player and improve my shooting ability and knowledge of the game.”
In his second year with the Glades, he earned the EJHL Defensive Player of the Year award. He credits the experiences of his first year with the team for the success of his second, saying, “I think taking the confidence and experience I gained from my first year of junior into my second year is what enabled me to be successful. I knew what I was capable of.”
Aside from confidence and experience, Goers’ work ethic was a big factor in his EJHL success. That work ethic dates back to when he was younger, playing roller hockey with a group of his friends from school.
In the USARS Junior Olympic National Championships, when his team was down by four goals entering the final period of a game, Goers’ coach told him to stop passing (according to a former teammate from those championships – Flyers Faithful’s own Kevin Christmann – Goers was a very unselfish player). Goers took his coach’s advice and went on to score four straight goals and force a tie.
After two years with the Glades, Goers headed just barely south to UMass Lowell, where he spent the next four years playing for the Riverhawks. In his sophomore year, he finished 2nd in all of Hockey East for points by a defenseman. He was also on the ballot for the Hobey Baker Award that year.
Even though he was far away from home, Goers found a quick tie to his Philadelphia roots – Ben Holmstrom, captain of the Adirondack Phantoms, who was Goers’ college roommate for three years and one of his best friends to this day.
“It sounds cliche, but [Benny]’s the type of player you hate to play against but love to have on your team. Those types of players always gain great respect,” Goers said of his friend and former teammate, adding that Holmstrom is the type of player the Flyers look for. “He’s a great leader, one who leads by example and holds people accountable. He’s definitely not afraid of confrontation.”
Holmstrom hasn’t been Goers’ only tie to Philadelphia in recent years. After his time at UMass Lowell, he went on to play for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL — a team that employs former Flyer Keith Primeau as the Director of Player Development.
“I remember when my final college hockey season was over, I got a call from my agent, Bob Klein. He said that Keith would be giving me a call about playing in Las Vegas,” Goers recalled. “I couldn’t believe it, because I loved watching him play with the Flyers, obviously, so I was pretty nervous and excited at the same time.”
Goers played in three seasons for the Wranglers, where he took his game to a new level – something he credits to the coach, Ryan Mougenel.
“He really helped develop me as a player to adapt to the pro style of the game, and take my game to a new level.”
What Goers learned in his time in Las Vegas was something he was able to apply when he made it to the next level, the American Hockey League, playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He only played in two games for Bridgeport, but said the chance was a great opportunity. “It gave me the chance to see what the AHL was all about and get a feel for how everything works at that level.”
When he was sent back down to the ECHL, he had a newfound confidence, and when he got called up a week later by the Lake Erie Monsters (also of the AHL), he felt confident in his ability and knew what to expect.
Goers received an invitation to the Colorado Avalanche tryout camp earlier this year; unfortunately, with the lockout, the camp never took place. It would have been Goers’ first NHL camp, and he’d really been looking forward to it.
“I think what I will miss the most out of that lost opportunity is the chance to grow as a player and learn more about myself,” he said of camp.
He, like so many, is hoping for a quick resolution to the current issues surrounding the lockout – of course, now he has a vested interest.
For now, though, Goers has plenty to look forward to. He’ll be playing with the Lake Erie Monsters again this season, and anticipates a great, competitive season alongside a great team.
“I love the game, so it’s always fun for me. I love to win, as well, so I look forward to a successful season and I expect us to win,” Goers stated. “I’m excited to be a part of Cleveland and the community!”