Hartland’s Kam Ragon is Livingston County Hockey Player of the Year

What’s the best way to sum up Kam Ragon’s senior hockey season at Hartland?

Let’s invite DJ Khaled and his friends.

Because all Ragon has done is win, win, win.

No matter what.

It didn’t matter whether it was the intense two-game rivalry with Brighton, the many clashes with other Division 2 contenders in the state, or the two overtime games in the last four at USA Hockey Arena.

When freshman Ian Kastamo scored in overtime to beat Trenton in the state championship game, it was 21 starts and 21 Ws for Ragon.

It was an extremely rare accomplishment that earned Ragon Player of the Year in Livingston County, an area that featured 12 first-team players and placed two teams in the state finals.

Anyone who says they saw this coming is lying.

A goaltender who gets the majority of starts for a team that plays such a tough schedule like Hartland should take a few hits along the way, especially if it’s his first season as a number one player. . Ragon was Ryan Piros’ backup last season, playing just 77 minutes in three appearances.

“Obviously, he’s certainly not expected to go undefeated,” Ragon said. “We knew we had a very difficult schedule at the start of this season. It’s just a crazy feeling that it happened. There have certainly been many ups and downs. We fought until the end. »

Hartland goaltender Kam Ragon posted a 1.37 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in 2021-22.

Hartland has seen a goaltender receive all-state recognition eight times in the past nine seasons, but none have come close to posting a perfect record. Even two-time state champion Brett Tome suffered two losses and a draw in 2017-18 and four losses in 2018-19.

“If you imagine something like that, it’s almost wrong to think that a goalie can go undefeated, because you know how tough a hockey season can be,” said Hartland coach Rick Gadwa.

There was no guarantee that Ragon would even be Hartland’s No. 1 goaltender, let alone an undefeated player.

He entered the season battling seniors Cole Gumiela and Owen Pogue for the starting spot. Ragon began breaking away from the pack early, stopping 48 of 49 shots in wins over Rockford and Brighton in a Thanksgiving tournament.

After adding wins over Houghton, Trenton and Birmingham Brother Rice to his resume before the Christmas break, Ragon entrenched himself as the goalkeeper the Eagles would roll with in the games that mattered most.

When there are three quality keepers vying for a single trick, it can cause some animosity within the group. That didn’t happen in Hartland.

Hartland goaltenders Kam Ragon (left) and Cole Gumiela rush towards each other to celebrate a 3-2 overtime win over Trenton in the 2008 Division 2 Championship hockey game State on Saturday, March 12, 2022 at USA Hockey Arena.

The bond between the three goaltenders was on full display at USA Hockey Arena after Kastamo’s overtime goal. Before joining the rest of their teammates for a celebration in the corner of the Trenton area, the backup goaltenders rushed to Ragon and all three fell to the ice together in a dog pile near center ice .

“You never see the two keepers going straight for the goalkeeper,” Gadwa said. “I’ve never seen him before. It’s really special. You see things like that, it’s worth it, even for a coach.

“You worry about toxic negativity seeping in. What an honor to this group that they didn’t let this even come close to a problem. They attacked every day in the right way and didn’t let that affect the general behavior of the group.

When interviewed throughout the season, Ragon often credited competition posed by fellow goalkeepers for making him a better player.

“We’ve always had a pretty special bond throughout the year,” Ragon said. “We have been quite close. It was a great feeling to be able to celebrate with them after this great victory.

“We just tried to take it one day at a time. We are all friends off the ice, which helped a lot. We had a very nice bond. Everything went well in the locker room, so that helped a lot.

Ragon posted a 1.37 goals-against average with a .938 save percentage and five shutouts. He has allowed more than two goals only three times in 21 starts.

Ragon hopes to continue playing hockey after high school. He said he will attend junior camps this summer, hoping to play with a team in the North American Hockey League or the BC Hockey League.

Gadwa believes Ragon will succeed at the next level.

“The numbers speak for Rags,” he said. “He played 21 games and went 21-0. He’s a winner.

Contact Bill Khan at wkhan@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillKhan.

Catherine J. Martinez