Raging Bulldogs goalie playing with a purpose this season - Republic-Times | News

Raging Bulldogs goalie playing with a purpose this season

By on January 9, 2015 at 12:28 pm
Waterloo-Freeburg goalie Peyton Hamilton is enjoying an allstar caliber season as a sophomore. (Greg Stanek photo)

Waterloo-Freeburg goalie Peyton Hamilton is enjoying an allstar
caliber season as a sophomore. (Greg Stanek photo)

Peyton Hamilton received the news no young man wants to hear when his father passed away in late November. Since then, he has turned in an inspired effort on the ice that has everyone buzzing.

The Waterloo-Freeburg Raging Bulldogs sophomore goalie has been playing hockey since the fifth grade. He started out as a forward, but it didn’t take him long to decide that goalie was the position for him.

The summer before his sixth grade year, Hamilton attended some goalie camps and that fall suited up as a goalie for the Fairview Heights Ice Hawks.

He has played between the pipes ever since.

“I saw how cool being the goalie was and I like the pressure of everyone counting on me to make that big save to win the game or keep us in the game,” Peyton said. “My favorite thing about hockey is the speed and the mentality of the game. It’s very fast and physical.”

Peyton has been playing goalie now for four years, the first two with the Ice Hawks.

When he learned there was going to be hockey again in Waterloo after merging with Freeburg, in the MVCHA, he decided to come play for his hometown team.

The Raging Bulldogs’ first season included some growing pains, but for a very young first-year team, they turned some heads.

This season, the team is off to a great start with only three upperclassmen on the varsity roster. Their young goalie has been a big key to that success.

“We are kind of an underdog team, and as the underdog team it makes us play better,” Peyton said. “It’s part of what inspires me to play better. Last year was kind of hard for me to get settled into games, but this year I’m not as nervous in games. I’m just playing and having fun.”

On Nov. 29, Peyton received the news he had known would come eventually. His father, Tony Hamilton, a former star football player at Waterloo High School, died following a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Raging Bulldogs had a junior varsity game that night against Granite City and Peyton remembers very well the call he got from coach Nick Dreyer that day asking him if he wanted to play that night.

“I told him yes, I want to play. There is no reason for me to sit at home being sad. I knew this day would come sooner or later,” Peyton said. “Hockey is a huge escape for me, so why sit here moping when I can go out and play hockey?”

Peyton not only played that night, but turned in one of the best games of his young career in a 6-0 shutout. He has been “lights out” ever since, coach Scott Parker said.

Waterloo-Freeburg was sitting at 2-3 in varsity before that day and have gone 7-1 since then as Peyton has more than held up his end of the ice.

Dreyer is very impressed with the character and maturity his young goalie has shown during this difficult time in his life.

“It was tough for him. It was tough for us as coaches and his teammates, but the kids knew the situation and have kind of rallied around Peyton,” Dreyer said. “Peyton has dealt with his father’s illness for a long time and you never want it to happen…but a lot of kids his age would not have handled it as well as he did. I can’t say enough about how mature he has been through this whole thing.”

Tony Hamilton was never able to attend any of Peyton’s high school games due to his illness, but he was always updated with a phone call from his son after the games.

Peyton’s numbers on the season so far are quite impressive.

He currently has nine wins with four losses and one tie at the varsity level, allowing just 35 goals for a goals against average of 2.69 and a save percentage of .906 and four shutouts.

His junior varsity numbers are even more impressive with a record of 12 wins and no losses, one tie and a goals against average of 0.66 and save percentage of .964 and six shutouts.

Dreyer knew he had a good goalie from the first time he saw him last year and is impressed with how well he has grown into the position this season.

“He has always had the ability, it was just a matter of putting things together and he is starting to do that. He has really focused his energy toward playing hockey,” Dreyer said. “We had one shutout all of last year. And we have been outshot in a lot of our games this year and still won.”

After an amazing past week that saw Peyton and the ‘Dogs win three games, all shutouts, He was named the R-T Athlete of the Week. Peyton had no idea until he got to work that day.

“I got to work and my boss was congratulating me, so I got on Twitter and was shocked,” Peyton said of the honor. “It was nice to be noticed for what I did. That has never happened to me before. I don’t want to get a big head, just play the game.”

Tony Hamilton was never much into hockey until his son started playing, but once Peyton took up the sport they would often watch St. Louis Blues games together or check out a San Jose Sharks game to watch Peyton’s favorite goalie, Antti Niemi, mind the net.

Peyton still has a sense his dad is watching over him and he also realizes it is not just him winning these games. It takes a team working as one to achieve greatness.

“I just go out and play my best for him, but that’s not the only reason,” Peyton said. “All our players have really been huge this year. A lot of people are really stepping up.”

There are no more phone calls after games to talk about how things went…. just a simple glance at the sky and a “yes” from Peyton to his dad to let him know it went well and that he is thinking of him.

Greg Stanek

Greg is a photojournalist and nurse. He shoots and does stories for the R-T. He grew up in Troy and has lived in Waterloo for 10 years with his wife Teena, a life-long Waterloo resident. Greg is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan and loves the outdoors and fly fishing.