By Juliette Connors
Arthur Smith, Princeton University commit, is a 2004 goalie to keep an eye on.
At the conclusion of the 2021-22 Season, which was his first year of junior hockey, Smith earned NAHL All First Team, All Rookie Team, and Goaltender and Rookie of the year awards.
Smith was in Texas for most of the year with the Lone Star Brahmas, but he spent a period of the season with the Madison Capitols.
“My confidence improved over the course of the year, and with that, so did my playing skills,” said Smith. “The more games I played with my team, the more in sync I felt with our defense. The more comfortable we all got with each other, the better we got. We ended up finishing first in the regular season and won our division, which were two huge goals for us so being able to hit those was really special.”
Smith only spent about a month with the Madison Capitols while their goalie was at World Juniors, but he took away a lot from the experience. He’ll be playing with them in the USHL next season.
“The transition from the NAHL to the USHL was interesting because the USHL is more skilled, and there are a lot more scoring opportunities. I took away a lot of information during my month that helped me have a really strong end of the year in Texas. I really liked all the coaches and I’m excited to work with them.”
A March report from NZ’s Goalie Scouts reflected his success in the NAHL:
Smith suffered two tough shootout losses, but did everything in his power to give his team a chance to win, allowing only 4 goals on 49 shots. He has great size in net and for a young goalie shows great consistency. His positioning is elite and he is difficult to score one with straight on shots. He forces opposing teams to beat him with great passing or lucky bounces. He was great in both shootouts as well, pushing one to go almost ten rounds. Smith is a young goalie that possess a ton of potential and will be fun to watch his development going forward. Grade: ANeutral Zone March 16, 2022
Earlier this summer, Smith attended Tampa Bay Development Camp, where he was one of the youngest players.
“I had an advantage in a sense, being so young, because I had the opportunity to learn from the older guys but didn’t feel as much pressure as those who were trying to earn a contract. The staff and the organization as a whole made it a very positive learning environment,” he said. “The coaches made it comfortable for anybody to ask questions. They stress how they want you to learn the job, and the office part of it, generally how to be a pro. I definitely learned a lot about what I can do off the ice to make sure I’m at my best on it.”
Smith announced his commitment to Princeton on April 11th, 2022. It was an easy decision for him.
Director of US Scouting Brian Murphy added:
NZ has watched Smith a dozen times the last few years. He has always been athletic and able to make the spectacular stop. The last couple years, he has added strength and improved positioning in the cage. Arthur is clearly is trending upwards and there is no reason to believe he won’t keep getting better and better. What he did as a 2004 in the NA is significant. He plays like he loves it and his teammates love to play in front of him. Smith’s upside is quite high.Brian Murphy
“In my family, education has always been important, that’s how I was raised. I knew at Princeton I could find kids who were passionate about hockey, but cared about school, too. The school felt like the right fit because I felt at home with the staff, and when I got the chance to talk to some guys who play there, they all seemed like people I wanted to be on the ice with.”
Princeton is also only a couple hours from home for Smith, whose family is a huge support system.
“My parents try to watch all of my games on TV, so seeing them in the crowd will be fun. When I was at the Youth Olympics, I had a group of 13 family members come to watch, and my grandma texts me after every game.”
A skill that Smith considers himself to have is one that comes mentally.
“I’m pretty good at being able to stay calm and focused under pressure,” he said. “One of my skills is seeing the ice and being aware of how the game develops. My ability to read plays is something I take pride in. I’ll continue to work on physically getting stronger and my skating skills, which are things that come with practice and detail.”
When asked what he’s most excited for going forward, Smith said, “To keep going to the rink every day and playing hockey. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do what I love.”
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images