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TEMPE — The starting lineup is simple: three forwards. Two defensemen. One goaltender. On Friday and Saturday night’s in the college hockey world, there are only 64 players who get to skate out as the goaltender for a Division I program. Thousands grow up wanting to be one of 64, but some things aren’t so simple. For viewers, it could seem like an easy role: flash the leather, do the splits, play as the last line of defense, but goaltenders are revered in victory and alone in loss. Great goaltenders, like Ben Kraws, make all of that look easy. The secret to handling the pressure? Compete with the man in the mirror. 

Kraws takes pride in how he prepares as a goalie. Playing in the NHL is his dream, but he takes his time to develop to be the best goalie he can be at the Division I level. It’s been that way ever since he started playing hockey.

“I want to be the best I can be, and to do that, I compete with myself and try to be better any way I can,” Kraws said. “I try to grow as an individual and a player. Growing up, I tried to be the best at every level I played at and kind of worked my way up from there. I’ve always wanted to be the best player on the team, from juniors to now at the college level. I try to continue to grow and evolve as a goalie.”

 starting lineup hockey

Kraws, a senior from Cranbury, New Jersey, is a transfer student-athlete who just finished his first season with ASU during which he competed to attain the starting role. He posted a .907 save percentage and made 689 saves, putting him behind Joey Daccord for third-most saves in a single season in Sun Devil Hockey history. He also tied the program record for saves in a game with 50 at No. 5 Quinnipiac. He did all of that while also attending Barrett, the Honors College, and majoring in finance at the WP Carey School of Business. 

Attending Barrett is no joke, especially as a student-athlete, but to do it as a transfer requires an extreme work ethic. Transfer students who enroll in Barrett have to take a class called the History Of Ideas that catches them up on the curriculum of Barrett and, like other students, must defend a Thesis/ Creative Project. It’s a lot of work, but for Kraws, the work ethic he displays in the classroom and on the ice drives him to be successful.

Let’s breakdown a typical day for the Kraw Daddy.

At 6:30 a.m., Kraws is up and getting ready to start his day.

From 7:15 a.m. to roughly 9:45 a.m., Kraws heads to the Carson Student-Athlete Center (CSAC) and works out with the team and the Director of Sports Performance & Olympic Sports, Liane Blyn.

Ben Kraws weight lifting Ben Kraws weights

After the lift, he works with Eddie Läck, a volunteer coach with the program, and they go through individual training focused on goalie-related drills. Full-team practice ends around 11:30 a.m., and Kraws starts his post-practice routine by getting treatment while having a protein shake. After lunch, he heads to class. He’ll head home and do homework until 9 p.m. when he gets ready to sleep and do it all over again.

“”Ben is a great kid and teammate and has an unparalleled work ethic both on and off the ice,” said head coach Greg Powers. “That’s why he took the net last year, he just made the decision to outwork really everyone on the ice on a daily basis. We couldn’t be more proud Ben is a Sun Devil.”

Kraws works hard every day to put his team, and himself, in the best position to succeed. That’s how it’s always been for Kraws ever since he started competing.

Before committing to the rink full time, he swam and did karate as a kid.

“I first started playing hockey, probably around the age of four… but growing up, I did competitive swimming and karate,” said Kraws, who earned a black belt before the age of 15.

Kraws started as a defenseman but made the switch to goalie because of how unique the position was to him. 


“I switched to goalie because I think it’s such a unique position, and I’ve had so much fun with it being the last line of defense, as they call it back there. You get a cool-looking helmet, and you can customize your gear. All of it played a part in why I wanted to play goalie.”

Ben Kraws helmet

So what type of training does Kraws do to make him the best he can be? It’s a lot of mental work and hand-eye coordination training to make stopping the puck effortless.

“A huge part of goaltending is being able to read and react to the play. I do vision training all the time to help me move with efficiency with my vision and to limit my fatigue. When you’re focused for the whole game, you can get fatigued in your eyes and your brain, and to be able to know how to recall your mind and bring the focus right back to the play. I think that’s been a huge help for me with my training.”

Along with that, Kraws does a brain-sharpening drill where he has a paper that has gone through 99 in individual boxes and he has to count up. “It might sound easy, but when you’re looking for an individual number and counting up from one to 99, it can be time-consuming. If you can’t find that number, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, like where is the number,’ but it’s really all just a combination of trying to train your brain and your eyes to work together,” Kraws says, who credits all of the training he does that gives him the edge especially when he faces top-tier talent.

Kraws has faced high-level talent, and when he competes with talent like that, he credits the mental training that allows him to play up to their speed and compete with them.

“You can tell just a bit of difference in the release of their shot and how quick they get off their blade. It’s an honor to be out there with them in a fun experience that I cherish and try to learn from. Having them be in a spot that I want to do, I try to pick their brain, ask them questions about how they got there.”


 

Along with the mental aspect, Kraws does a lot to take care of his body. He credits coach Blyn with helping him transform his body in just a year.

“[Coach Blyn] has been great for me with improving my strength and mobility. She’s been phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things about her, and how much she helped me in the one year I’ve been here. Being a tall guy on the lankier side, I’ve been able to put good muscle on, and I give a ton of credit to Liane for how she’s helped me improve my body.”

As he gets ready with his team for the upcoming hockey season, where the Sun Devils will be playing in their new arena, Kraws is excited to see the team’s potential.

“To have my first year under my belt and experience what it truly means to be a Sun Devil, I think it’s everything I had envisioned. Going forward, this team has so much potential, and I know we’re gonna have a great upcoming year. I’m looking forward to it.”

Sun Devil Hockey starts the 2022-23 season on October 1-2 at Minnesota Duluth. ASU plays in its home opener on Oct. 14-15 vs. Colgate. 

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