North Haven SportsBeat: From CT to Stanley Cup?

Eyes of Connecticut are on Jonathan Quick as he tries to lead the LA Kings to the Stanley Cup.

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was born in Milford and played scholastically in Hamden and Avon, but the eyes of the entire state of Connecticut are now squarely focused on the 25-year old goalie of the Los Angeles Kings. Quick has led his team to the Western Conference finals and on the brink of playing for the Stanley Cup.

"We are so proud so of Jonathan," said Bill Verneris, head coach of the hockey team. "I get so mad when the announcers talk about him being from Milford and Avon and don't mention us. We're really proud of him and helped steer his career in the right direction."

Verneris took over as head coach in 2001, the same year that Quick was a sophomore. In his first season guiding the program, Verneris had a tough decision make.

"We had a senior goalie and Jonathan was just a sophomore. It's not often a sophomore beats out a senior, but Todd Hall, our assistant coach who played professional hockey, would always shoot on both of them. I asked him for his opinion and he said, 'Jonathan is special.' I made the decision to go with Jonathan. It was a controversial one, but I did what I felt was right."

Quick rewarded his coaches' faith by making a spectacular save in his debut with Hamden, "We were playing Darien and I told him he was going to start and he was so excited," Verneris said. "With the game on the  line, Jonathan was sprawled on the ice on his back and the Darien player shot the puck and somehow, Jonathan managed to snatch it out of the air to save the game. After that play, nobody had any complaints about my decision to start a sophomore over a senior."

Quick didn't stay at Hamden High School very long. He left for after finishing his sophomore year, "Selfishly, I wanted Jonathan to stay. But we wanted what was best for Jonathan and his development. When you have a prestigous prep school come along that's going to pay for his tuition and give him the opportunity to improve his game, you have to let him do what he has to do."

What Quick is doing in the NHL right now is pretty incredible. He set a Los Angeles Kings franchise-record with 10 shutouts. Quick is the only goalie in team history to post three consecutive shutouts and his 1.95 goals against average made him a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the league's best goaltender.

"He is just so quick, athletic, and competive," said Verneris. "Jonathan just hates to give up even a single goal. That's what has made him so good. He wants to be the best."

Quick has carried the Kings into the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Coyotes. If Quick goes on to hoist the Stanley Cup, his old coach is confident his former star won't forget where he came from.

"I always text him after every series to say, 'nice job,' said Verneris. "Jonathan always texts back, no matter what. He sometimes comes back to skate with the team during the winter, which is really nice. Jonathan is a great kid and we're so proud of all his success."


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