Behind the mask of Owen Savory

Owen Savory ’22 has had an outstanding January. Leading all of the NCAA Hockey with a goals against average of .590 and a save percentage of .980, Savory earned three national awards for the month. He also led the team to a victory in the Mayor’s Cup, defeating Union College by not allowing a goal in the shootout. Before the season comes to a close, The Polytechnic wanted to interview Savory to learn more about him.

Savory was born in Cambridge, Ontario—a small town 45 minutes west of Toronto. Being an Ontario native, he was essentially born wearing skates. He began to play hockey at the age of three, playing as a skater for two years before transitioning to goalie. Growing up, he wanted to either be a professional hockey player or follow in his father’s footsteps and become a firefighter. He continued to play hockey throughout his childhood, as well as other sports such as soccer; here at Rensselaer, he is on an indoor intramural soccer team known as “The Ball Handlers.” However, when he reached high school, he was forced to focus on one sport. He chose hockey.

Savory joined the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League in the 2014–15 season, playing for the Cambridge Winter Hawks in the Midwestern Conference for his first two years, then played his last two years for the St. Catharines Falcons in the Golden Horseshoe Conference. It wasn’t until his last year at St. Catharines that he was scouted by RPI. He was humbled by the opportunity to come here for athletics and academics, and said it was his proudest moment to date. After experiencing the atmosphere on a campus visit, he accepted.

It is difficult to remember that he is just an average student. After much trial and error with time management last year, he said he’s been able to devise a new strategy. This semester, he is taking six classes and still manages to get all of his work done before the weekend so he can focus on hockey. He loves walking to class with his teammates and running into friends and fans on campus; his favorite aspect of RPI is the people, the connections, and the collaboration. He sometimes ventures into Troy for dinner, trying new restaurants when he can. He also serves on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a committee that advocates for student-athletes by recommending and responding to proposed NCAA legislation. After his hockey career, he would like to use his degree to become a sports agent in order to help give young athletes opportunities to succeed.

The majority of Savory’s week consists of hockey—he’s on the ice every day except Sunday, which is a mandatory day off that he spends completing his homework. The team plays on both Friday and Saturday nights. If the team has an away game, they leave by Thursday at 12:30 pm.

According to Savory, being on the hockey team is an experience unlike any other. Since he spends the majority of the day with his teammates, they’re extremely close with one another; that sense of camaraderie is likely one reason for their success. Another reason for their success is their work ethic and resilience, which Savory says is the basis of his confidence in the team’s abilities. He also says he has a great relationship with the coaching staff, especially with head coach Dave Smith and assistant coaches Scott Moser, Chuck Weber, and Nate Skidmore.

When asking Savory about goaltending, he spoke about how his spot on the roster is never solidified. Day in and day out, he competes with the other goalies to start in the next game and this drives all of them to perform at their best. Last year, as a freshman, he had his fair share of nerves; he’s adapted this year, stating that he gets “more nervous for tests than games.” That being said, he loves big games including the Mayor’s Cup, Big Red Freakout, and rivalry games against Union.

SAVORY STRETCHES before a game. August Gehrman/The Polytechnic

Savory has developed consistent pre-game rituals including a nap, arriving at the Houston Field House at precisely 4:30 pm on game days, taping his stick the exact same way in the exact same location each time, and performing certain stretches before the puck drop. During games, he remains composed. Even after an amazing save or conceding a goal, he doesn’t let it break his equanimity. He explained that there’s a time for retrospection, but he doesn’t believe it’s during the game.

As the team heads towards the playoffs, there is only one thing on their minds—to clinch home ice advantage by placing eighth or higher in their conference. At the time of publication, the Engineers sit in sixth; this means that if the standings remain constant, the 11th seed Princeton Tigers would travel to the Houston Field House for the first round of the playoffs. If the Engineers win that series and the quarterfinals, they advance to the ECAC tournament in Lake Placid.

The joking nature of the team was apparent in the interview. When asked about playoff beards, he replied that the team will grow them out, but he’s not sure if his roommate Jake Johnson ’23 would have the ability to. He told me a story about how Rory Herrman ’23 sent a picture of himself wearing a Chewbacca mask to the team, which earned him the endearing nickname “Chewie.” He says the team is engrossed in Fortnite, but Savory’s lack of skill relegates him to a spectator.

To wrap up the interview, Savory answered some lighthearted questions. If he were to be a dog, he would be a German Shepherd due to their protective nature. If he could move anywhere in the world, he would relocate to either Spain or Italy. His taste in music was influenced by the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, and he also has a fondness for country. He’s an avid fan of Will Ferrel movies and is currently reading The Happiness Advantage.

Next time you’re cheering in the stands, you can appreciate everything that goes into his performance on the ice: the routine he follows to prepare, his mother Jennifer coming to many of his games to watch him play, and how he loves walking through campus with his teammates.