116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - There is so much about Corbin Kaczperski’s hockey journey that is unique and makes a good story. But let’s focus on his helmet.
Kaczperski allowed a rather soft goal late in a game that caused his team to lose. On a Facebook fan site for the team, someone posted how Charles (the legendary blind singer) could have made the save Kaczperski did not.
Then there are the colors: one side being straight white and the other side straight maroon. Those are the school colors of the University of Denver, where he played as a grad transfer last year.
Kaczperski started wearing two-colored helmets as a youth in the Detroit area, and is certain that helped him get noticed at a tryout camp for a team in which 30 goalies were present. He was one of four finalists, didn’t make that team but ultimately made another.
Youth hockey led to junior hockey in Fort Worth, Texas, which led to college and now pro.
“So I kind of credit my helmet as the only reason I’m still playing hockey,” he said, with a laugh. “Without it, no one would have noticed me, and I wouldn’t have made a AAA (youth) team.”
The 25-year-old began his rookie pro season with the Vermilion County Bobcats of the Southern Professional Hockey League in Danville, Ill. He spent a small amount of time as an emergency backup (EBUG) with the American Hockey Leaue’s Utica Comets and was signed recently by the Heartlanders.
His numbers with Iowa are eye catching in two ways. Not only is a 2.10 goals against average in six games and a .943 save percentage simply outstanding, but that’s infinitely better than what Kaczperski did at Vermillion County (5.09 and .877).
The ECHL is a step up from the SPHL, so that’s not supposed to happen. Kaczperski credits film study with friend and old youth goalie teammate Colin Walsh for the improvement.
Walsh is an engineer now.
“We were watching some film, he still loves the position, we talk about it all the time because we’re so close,” Kaczperski said. “We were looking at my feet, we’re big on footwork, and my feet were actually pigeon toed. So I’m fighting myself every time I’m trying to butterfly. My hands weren’t as mobile as they could have been. And my positioning, there was just super negativity with my feet.
“I switched to more parallel, and my mobility and my agility just increased so much. I just felt better out there, felt so much smoother, felt I was getting to pucks.”
He also intentionally became more passive in net when the opponent enters his team’s defensive zone instead of immediately coming out to challenge shooters.
“The game because so much easier,” he said. “Those are the two big changes I made, it’s working, and I’m not going to mess with it.”
Kaczperski said he sent out e-mails to Ivy League schools when he was playing for the Lone Star Brahmas of the junior North American Hockey, trying to get recruited. He didn’t get a sniff when he did it at the beginning of that 2015-16 season, but got Yale to become interested when he did it it later that season.
Yale eventually offered, and he jumped, committing despite having never visited the school. Kaczperski ended up getting his degree as an economics and political science major.
Having not played as a freshman, he had one year of playing eligibility remaining after graduating, which led to the graduate transfer year at Denver. With that coveted Yale degree in his back pocket, Kaczperski has decided the real world can wait, so he is taking his shot at professional hockey.
“I feel like I’m playing well,” he said. “It’s been fun, for sure. I do have to give credit to the D. I love the way we play in the D zone. We break up pretty much every seam pass, don’t let a lot of things get to the box. They let me see a lot of shots. It’s been clicking a lot, that’s for sure.
“I’m just focusing on hockey. At the end of the day, I want to be as good as I can be wherever that is. I figure if I focus on the hockey and keep trying to improve, good things are going to happen. That’s kind of the mindset, and we’ll see where it goes.”
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