On frozen ponds all across the northern parts of the continent, young hockey players dream of scoring the game-winning goal in a critical playoff game. They hear the crowds cheering, see the puck tickling the twine in the back of the net, and imagine their teammates mobbing them in celebration.
Elmira junior Justin Joy has lived that dream — not just once, but twice — in the last two weeks. To start, Joy tallied the game winner against Hobart with just 1:28 remaining in the ECAC West semifinal game on March 4.
Then in last weekend’s NCAA Quarterfinal game against Manhattanville, Joy not only scored the game-tying goal with only 1.8 seconds left in regulation, but also scored the game winner almost twelve minutes into the second overtime to send the Soaring Eagles into the NCAA semifinals.
“It feels really good,” said Joy. “In the past I have always wanted to score goals like that and now it is happening. I really can’t explain it, but it feels unbelievable. It is great to finally put the food on the table.”
Joy’s college career has had its highs and lows over the past two seasons. Joy was originally recruited by Elmira before finally deciding to go to Plattsburgh after playing for the Junior A Cornwall Colts. His freshman year was a success for the Cardinals, scoring 28 points and being named the team Rookie of the Year.
But the sophomore season didn’t go as well and Joy struggled throughout the season.
“The guys were great and Plattsburgh is a fun school,” said Joy. “I had a change of heart for the program. When I first went there, I got Rookie of the Year for the team and 28 points. But then I went in a slump, was being sat out games for penalty minutes, and it changed my whole attitude on the game. I wasn’t really liking it, and I thought I needed a change.”
Joy transferred to Elmira last summer and has had a stellar season for the Soaring Eagles.
“It was between Elmira and Plattsburgh when I was a freshman,” said Joy. “It didn’t work out [at Elmira], so I went to Plattsburgh. I loved my visit [to Elmira], they treated me really well, and it is a good school. That’s what attracted me.”
Joy leads Elmira in points (33), game winning goals (5), and has been a clutch player in extending the Soaring Eagles season.
“He has had great success offensively for us and brings a lot of maturity, hard work, and determination to our lineup,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “We wouldn’t be where we are without him. We recruited him a couple of years ago and are happy that he had a chance to come back to us.”