A Colorado high schooler tied a national record for most saves in a single game on Tuesday as his team competed through five overtime periods for the state hockey championship. Unfortunately for Sam Simon, the accomplishment will remain a hollow one as the Fort Collins High School goaltender's efforts were not enough to get his team the victory.
Simon made 84 saves, tying a national record, in the longest hockey title game in Colorado history. The one shot he let in happened with 2:12 remaining in the fifth overtime period, which gave Fort Collins' opponents, Valor Christian, the state championship in a 1-0 win.
"Obviously we're disappointed," Simon told the Coloradoan. "It's a save I could make all night long, I just didn't make it. I kind of let them down a little bit."
Yet for as hard as Simon has been on himself, coaches from both teams made sure to counterbalance those thoughts with words of praise after the fact.
"He's phenomenal. There's a reason why we're here and he's a big part of that reason," Fort Collins coach Dylan Strom said. "He made 81 or whatever it was saves in that game. It was incredible."
"Sam Simon did a great job. There's so many superlatives to describe his performance, but he was outstanding," said Valor Christian coach George Gwozdecky. "Simon kept them in the game. He did a wonderful job."
Gwozdecky even made sure to give Simon a private word of encouragement.
Simon was voted Player of the Year by coaches and saved 206 of 211 shots for a .976 save percentage throughout the deepest playoff campaign Fort Collins had ever pulled off. His most impressive performance before Tuesday was the 56 saves he made in a double-overtime win during the quarterfinals.