This season, Betz is a two-time CCHA Defensive Player of the Week honoree and also was named the INCH National Player of the Week and the USCHO.com Defensive Player of the Week. Betz is seventh in the nation this season with a goals-against average of 2.01 and ranks first in the CCHA in goals-against average in league games (1.29).
You’ve spent time during the past two summers in Tanzania. What did you do there and how did you get involved?
I became involved with an organization out of Sioux City, Iowa, where I played junior hockey, called S.T.E.M.M. Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries). S.T.E.M.M. works largely with underprivileged high school-aged children in Tanzani that cannot afford to support themselves in school. Last year we sponsored over 350 kids who otherwise would have had no means to pay for their high school education (there is almost no public schooling in Tanzania). Also, the organization sends teams of around 15 people to Tanzania biannually on mission trips. While in country the team will set up an orthopedic surgical clinic and also involves itself in small-scale projects with local orphanages and schools. My first trip to Tanzania we built a small barn for an orphanage and built blackboards in several area schools. This past year we worked in a small orphanage that was in extremely desperate circumstances. The kids had no beds, little food and their latrine was overflowing. Usually S.T.E.M.M. only has around $200-300 to spend on these projects, but because of the efforts of the OSU hockey community and the fundraiser we held last season we were able to commit over $1,300 to this particular project and completely change a few kids’ lives. Now these kids have beds to sleep in, their own chicken coop with 200 chickens, a new latrine and bright paint covers the formerly dark, dank walls.
What is your major … what do you plan on doing after your hockey career is over?
I plan on playing professional hockey next year to see how far I can take it. After that I can’t really tell you because I have no idea myself. However, I definitely see myself doing a longer- term volunteering commitment in a third-world country. Other paths I see myself taking after hockey are coaching college hockey, teaching high school or perhaps exploring the seminary.
It’s your senior season … how would you like to end your Buckeye career? What are your goals for the season?
I would like to end my career here by playing in the national championship game. I’ve never won a championship in hockey and I believe we have the team to do it this year. Right now we’re at the top of the CCHA standings and I’d like to see a few more banners raised next year.
Personally, I would like to get to 80 career wins. In this league 20 wins a season for a team is a pretty good year and if I can get to 80 wins I think that would mark a solid career.
How old were you when you started playing hockey and why did you start?
I was 9 when I started, which is pretty late relatively speaking when you think about some of our Canadian guys who started skating as soon as they could walk. My dad was a big hockey fan and had season tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a long time. I can remember coming home from school on game nights and my mom would be waiting at the top of the stairs to tell me my dad had an extra ticket to the game that night. I think one year I went to well over half of their home games. My first two years of hockey the Penguins won the Stanley Cup and that’s probably why I became obsessed with hockey.
You’re the Buckeyes’ all-time leader in goalie wins … how did it feel to set the record?
It was a nice milestone. It is a true testament to the emergence of OSU hockey into a new era. The past two years we’ve been playing at the top of the league and that has given me the opportunity to win a lot of games.
What is your college hockey highlight?
There are a few. It seems like each year there’s an exceptional memory. My freshman year it would have to be a 3-2 overtime win in Maine where I had 58 saves. Sophomore year it would be the 6-5 overtime win against Alaska Fairbanks at the CCHA Super Six at Joe Louis Arena. Last year playing in the NCAA tourney was very special. So far this year sweeping Michigan State in East Lansing, something no OSU team had ever done, was quite an experience, but I’m hoping that memory is topped sometime around the first week in April.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned at Ohio State?
To enjoy the time I have playing hockey. Especially this season I’ve realized how much I truly love the game and what a special gift it is to be able to play every weekend. In past years sometimes the stress of performing at a high level has distracted me from realizing what I love about competing and playing college hockey. This year I am just trying to savor every moment I’m on the ice or with the team and have no regrets at the end of the season.
Who is your favorite hockey player and why?
That’s a tough question. I admire so many players and not just goaltenders. I love watching lots of guys. I particularly like Peter Forsberg, Marc Denis, Martin Brodeur and Rick DiPietro. There are so many young guys that are a lot of fun to watch. Rick Nash is going to be an unbelievable player and I get a lot of opportunities to see him.
Who has been the biggest influence on your hockey career?
Without a doubt two of my coaches in Sioux City. Dave Hakstol, now an assistant coach at North Dakota, was my head coach and I don’t think I have more respect for anybody in this world. He taught me what it meant to be an honest, hardworking hockey player and how your habits concerning hockey were a reflection of your life. He challenged everyone to be the best. Maybe we responded because we were scared to death of him, but he brought out the best in us.
The other is Todd Jones, now an assistant at Alaska Fairbanks. He was a goaltender and taught me technically how to play goal. He taught me the goaltender has to be the leader in every aspect of the game. He showed me how to demand more out of myself and accept nothing but the best. They both have a truly amazing effect on me. No matter what the situation is or how full of self doubt I am, a quick conversation with Todd or Coach Hakstol and I’m ready to take on the world again. I’m not sure I would have made it to college hockey without these two men.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time? During the season I use it to eat or sleep. But, in the summer when things slow down I love getting involved in any kind of volunteering. It is what makes me truly happy and hopefully someday I’ll find a way that it can be my main focus and I can use my spare time in other ways.
I love to read stories about peoples lives. I just finished Lance Armstrong’s second book “Every Second Counts” and I love hearing what makes extraordinary people tick. Also, I love reading the stories in the Bible at a Bible study. There are so many fascinating lessons in there and it’s awesome when you have someone there to help you with all of the language.
Do you have any connections with CCHA and/or NHL players?
It’s amazing – my first year in Sioux City I had three teammates who are in the NHL right now (Rusty Klesla – Columbus Blue Jackets, David Hale – New Jersey Devils, Ruslan Fedotenko – Tampa Bay Lightning). It’s pretty rare to have that many guys in the NHL that played on the same team at a lower level. I go to a camp every year with Andrew Raycroft who is getting time with Boston this year. I was roommates with Rick DiPietro in the US National Development Goalie Camp and I grew up in the same minor hockey organization with Ryan Malone who plays for Pittsburgh. Also, I’m sure Ryan Kesler of last year’s Buckeye team will get some time with Vancouver this year.