For the last four years, Olivier Mantha was the star of the UAA hockey team, setting records and winning awards. The Quebec local departed from UAA in 2018 with a final tally of 3,449 saves; his save-record is the highest in UAA history. Overall, he spent 6,973 minutes playing for the team to finalize his .908 save percentage before playing professionally.
With Mantha’s departure, the spot was left open with high expectations. A trio of young players were suited to play his spot with the starting position still up in the air.
Kristian Stead, eligible as a freshman, is now entering his second season with the Seawolves after suffering a season-ending injury in 2017, which forced him to redshirt for the 2017-18 season.
Originally from Merritt, B.C., Stead came to Alaska after playing two seasons on the Nipawin Hawks Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. It was there that he posted an impressive .936 save average during his final season of 42 games.
Additionally, during the playoff games of his final season, he averaged an improved save average of .946.
Due to his impressive statistics, Stead was named SJHL’s MVP and Top Goaltender just before coming to UAA. He also captured the CJHL Top Goaltender award by being nominated as the best netminder in Canada Junior A hockey.
However, just coming into UAA, Stead suffered an injury in fall of 2017 that prevented him from playing his first year. The 2018-19 season will be the first season that Stead is playing for the Seawolves.
This was the first time in almost his entire life that Stead wasn’t actively playing hockey.
“I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old. My parents signed me up because I always enjoyed skating with my family. I played one year of player before giving goalie a try, and then I never looked back,” Stead said.
Not surprisingly, he has spent almost his entire hockey career playing as goalie, which has built his impressive record to come to UAA.
Unfortunately, due to his injury, Stead has not had a chance to prove himself to the Seawolves.
“I’m eager to get the season going. I’ve got everything to prove after how last year panned out,” he said. “I look forward to showcasing what I can bring to the team and doing what I can to help this team succeed.”
Starting off slow, Stead was able to play just one period of the exhibition game against Simon Fraser. Kris Carlson and Brody Claeys are also goalies for the Seawolves.
“The starting job is up for grabs; whoever performs will get the chance to play,” Stead said.
However, compared to Stead’s previous .936 save average, Carlson is coming in with .890 average and Claeys had a .898.
Stead is unsure how the goaltending responsibilities are going to be distributed for the remainder of the season, but he is motivated and confident that he will play a significant role in the Seawolves’ success.
He explained that, with new coaching staff and new players, they have worked hard to rebuild their team culture and they are excited to have a fresh start for the 2018-19.
Stead and his teammates will be back in action and on the road for Oct. 26 and 27 games against Ferris State University in Michigan.