Road to the EHL Series: Seahawks Goalie Durand Has ‘A Mindset Of A Pro’

Kyle McKenna
Kyle McKenna
Kyle McKenna spent four seasons working in various communications roles at the professional hockey level from 2015-2019. McKenna served as the New Jersey Devils Communications Assistant for the 2015-16 season and Community Hockey Assistant and Lightning High School Hockey League Beat Writer from 2016-2018 for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Additionally, the New Jersey native worked at the 2018 World Junior Championship at Buffalo in as a Media Relations Assistant and was also the Communications Assistant for the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder in 2018-19. Since graduating Monmouth University with a bachelor’s degree in communications (2015), the former Junior Hockey player also covered the NHL for various blogs in freelance roles. McKenna’s familiarity with the EHL dates to last season (2019-20) when he was an organization’s communications manager, while creating written and digital content on a daily basis.

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Peyton Durand has been solid in goal for the Seahawks Hockey Club

While Seahawks Hockey Club goaltender Peyton Durand stands tall in net for the Eastern Hockey League (EHL), the 20-year-old also proved this season that he is one of the best between the pipes at the Junior “A” level.

The New England native shared his Road to the EHL and how the league benefits his future.

Strapping on the Pads

At five-years-old, Durand embraced the goaltender position and never looked back. His play on the ice began as a “house-league” hobby in the blue paint and later transformed into a full-time passion.

It’s not common for youngsters who laced up the skates to fall in love, well, with strapping on the pads and stopping pucks. Yet, Durand isn’t the ordinary athlete.

Durand tended goal for the Minuteman Flames in his youth hockey days

“The ability you have in a crease to control the outcome of a game is what I enjoy most,” said Durand. “I love that feeling of being able to control the outcome of games.”

Pressure – no sweat.

It seems that Seahawks head coach Bill Zaniboni also believes that the goaltender portrays more than just athleticism in net.

“Peyton has a mindset of a pro,” said Zaniboni, a premier goaltender himself in his high school days at Massachusetts power Catholic Memorial, the USHL, NAHL and at D1 Northern Michigan. “He takes care of himself on and off the ice, which is what you want as top end guys to set the example.”

The Runway

Prior to joining the Seahawks and Zaniboni’s squad, Durand committed to Skidmore’s NCAA DIII Ice Hockey program in 2019-20. Due to the modern-day circumstances, the 6-foot netminder was later eligible and signed a Junior hockey contract with the Seahawks during the EHL’s 2020-21 offseason.

“I had a good conversation with coach Zaniboni,” said Durand. “He just seemed liked a good guy and I trusted him, and to get to the next level, and it’s been a lot of fun. I look forward to going to the rink everyday with the guys.”

So, how did coach Zaniboni recruit one the EHL’s top goaltenders?

The Seahawks coach originally discovered Durand when he tended net for Pomfret School in Connecticut, an independent program in the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association (NEPSIHA)

Peyton captained his Pomfret School prep team in his senior year.

“Peyton was a very good Prep School goalie at Pomfret,” said Zaniboni.

“That’s where I first heard his name. Meanwhile he was at Skidmore as a young goalie buying his time. Peyton’s name came up in conversation with James Mello, who worked privately with Peyton in Rhode Island. James thought he’d be a good fit for the league. So, he had Peyton reach out to me about an opportunity and if we would have an available spot for him to compete.”

Flying High

Entering the new calendar year, Durand owns an impressive .922 save% and 2.59 goals-against-average (GAA). For the record, the masked man ranks in the EHL’s top-five for save %, and for goaltenders that have also dressed in 10-or-more contests.

It’s safe to say – Durand gained the league’s full attentions this season.

While the netminder’s journey to the EHL was unique, Durand also expressed that the EHL is an ideal path to college and no matter the circumstances.

“I love it, honestly,” said Durand. “If you can perform in this league then colleges are going to notice. Our day-one meeting with Coach ‘Zani’, he said ‘hey, our number-one goal is to get you guys to the next level’,”.

Off the Ice

Durand plans on returning to a Division III ice hockey program while studying business. Yes, it’s a been a ‘different’ year, but the netminder also expressed that he’s appreciated this season in the EHL, while competing against top-tier talent and using those aspects to his advantage.

(Kyle McKenna covers the EHL for HNIB and can be followed on Twitter @KMcKenna_EHL)

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