When Robert Moss was 3 years old, his two older brothers drew a hockey goal on the cement wall of the family’s basement, taped him in pillows, and started using hockey sticks to pelt him with tennis balls for the first time.
Even though he quickly lost his two front teeth, which his parents were not happy about, he never lost his passion for wearing the pads.
The 25-year-old RiverHawks goalie is gearing up to play what could be his last game in Augusta on Friday. The St. Louis native has been in town less than three weeks, since receiving a call from coach Rob Miller asking him to join the team at training camp Oct. 13. The team signed him to a three-game contract, the first two of which were lost on the road to the Mississippi RiverKings last Friday and Saturday. The team’s first home contest will be against the Fayetteville FireAntz on Friday.
“(Moss) stood on his head for us,” captain Matt Auffrey said of Saturday’s game. “They outshot us, pretty much double, and he kept us in the game all the way until the last 10 minutes, and that was our two breakdowns. He was real solid for us.”
The RiverHawks had three goalies on the roster: Moss, Alex Beaudry and Peter Skoggard. On Wednesday afternoon, Skoggard was waived because of immigration issues.
Skoggard, who is from Sweden, was in his third season in Augusta. Last season he played in 22 games for the RiverHawks but issues with getting his paperwork approved cost him playing time.
“Unfortunately, his immigration request was turned down and we could no longer afford to continue to carry three goaltenders on our roster,” RiverHawks president Mark Richards said in a news release. “We had to do what was in the best interests of the Augusta RiverHawks, and in this situation it means letting go of a very good goaltender.”
Moss’s status is unchanged until his three-game contract is up, a team spokesman said.
Miller said Moss played well Saturday, stopping 38 of 40 shot attempts (.950 save percentage), which will factor into his decision on whether he gets playing time Friday.
“(Moss) had some big stops for us,” Miller said. “I have a decision to make.”
Moss said the first two games have been lost on little mistakes. Mistakes the RiverHawks hope to get out of the way this early in the season.
“We just had to correct a few things,” he said. “And we’ve been working hard this week in practice to do what it takes to win this weekend.”
Moss is hoping not to say goodbye to Augusta just yet. In Canton, N.Y., where Moss was a goalie for St. Lawrence University last winter, the town had two stop lights. Before that, he played juniors in a town in Iowa that was about a mile long.
“I like (Augusta) a lot,” he said. “It’s kind of a change of pace. It’s nice to have a big city.”
Moss did not waste his time in Canton. He graduated with a double major in economics and history. He said if he was never able to play hockey as his profession again, he would probably cry, but most likely end up working in a bank.
Two big differences between college and the RiverHawks are the pace of the game and the rigidness of the plays, he said. In college, players are expected to always follow the coach’s instructions.
With the RiverHawks, Moss said the game has slowed down and is more deliberate. If a player tries something in practice that works, he’s allowed to try it in a game.
Knowing Friday could be his last game in Augusta is not something Moss is letting dictate his performance, however.
“I’ve been in this position before, you know, many times,” he said. “You don’t worry about that. All you worry about is what you need to do in order to succeed, which is to just stop the puck. If you can do that, the rest will take care of itself.”