For one final year, Seawolf hockey has a skilled goaltender to utilize. After three years of starting as the UAA hockey goalie, Olivier Mantha returned to the team for his senior year.
His time at UAA has been respected by fans, coaches and his own teammates.
The mathematics major just began his fourth and final season with the Seawolves, after three incredibly successful years. His accomplishments include placing in the top-five for five separate UAA hockey categories. Mantha is also the assistant captain for the second year.
Mantha is well known within the collegiate hockey community and at the Division I level. After being voted team MVP for three years in a row, Mantha’s contribution has helped the Seawolves make it to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs. Mantha’s first year was also the first season that the team had made the playoffs in years.
After three games total for the 2017-18 season, Mantha already started out with an impressive performance against North Dakota on Oct. 6-7, including a save that was nominated for NCAA top saves.
Due to successes during the previous weekend, on Monday, Oct. 9 the WCHA designated Mantha as the league’s goalie of the week. With the addition of this award, Mantha now boasts four total WCHA weekly awards, including rookie of the week.
“I think I was just seeing the puck well and I think the guys played well in front of me and helped make my job easy in some occasions. When I had to make some big saves, it just worked out,” Mantha said.
His hard work didn’t get noticed by just WCHA officials, but also by Thomas.
“He was pretty important on Friday and Saturday [Oct. 6-7] night,” Thomas said.
“Olivier made some unbelievable saves and then [made some more] that probably looked routine to him. You know he is big [for the team], our seniors are big, our go-to players are big and he is definitely one of our go-to players.”
His results against North Dakota weren’t anything out of the ordinary. Mantha led the NCAA with 74 saves, a .948 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average in 126 minutes of playtime.
With over 5,200 minutes of playtime in his collegiate career at UAA, Mantha ranks in the top-five in program history. He ranks in five separate career categories: first in save percentage (.910), second in saves (2,503), third in goals-against average (2.87) and second in minutes played (5,253:56). Mantha’s minutes played has increased since the categories records have been updated.
“When you have a goaltender that gives you that type of element in the net, it gives your team a lot of confidence. So, I hope that [Mantha] gives everyone a little more confidence [on the ice],” Thomas said.
Until Sept. 30, Mantha was third for minutes played. After a successful game against Simon Fraser, Mantha made a number of key saves and finished with 32 saves on the night allowing him to pass Doug Teskey (1996-99) for second in career minutes.
With his final season and his final academic year already under way, Mantha has some decisions to make for his future post-college. He hopes to go pro, continue playing hockey and be involved as long as possible. Once his hockey life begins to dwindle down, he will have his degree in mathematics to pursue another path with.
Mantha and the team left on Oct. 10 to play in their first away games against Colorado College in Colorado Springs. The two back-to-back games resulted in two more loses for the Seawolves, but it wasn’t an unfortunate situation all-around; Mantha benefited substantially from the games.
After 38 saves on Saturday, Oct. 14, Mantha surpassed two previous UAA save records to take the lead with 2,645 saves. The previous record was held by Paul Krake with 2,637 saves, which had been the standing record for the past 25 years.
“We [went] there and it’s [was] a challenge, but our goal was obviously to have a good weekend and build off of what we did [against North Dakota],” Mantha said.
The team will be back in action on Oct. 20-21 against Alaska Fairbanks for the first game of the Governor’s Cup at the Sullivan Arena.