Astedt finding success

Each press release reads almost the same: Jack Astedt, Plymouth State, MASCAC Goalie of the Week.

For the third time in four weeks, the junior has received the honor — this week, after going 2-1 with a 1.63 goals against average, a .945 saves percentage, and a shutout in three games from November 29 to December 3.

But Astedt, a junior at Plymouth State, credits his early-season success to the fact that in the past two summers, he has made a stronger dedication to off-season training. In his native Sweden, he worked as a goalie coach at summer youth camps and trained every day, whether it was skating, weight training, or running on the beach near his hometown of Osby, about two and a half hours northeast of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I’d never really taken being physically strong and going to the gym seriously,” Astedt said. “I rode on my talent. You reach a point where you can’t do that, and you reach a point where you have to develop in another way. You can’t just survive on your talent. For me, that was the biggest difference, compared to last year.

“I came into the season and I knew I worked harder. I definitely worked just as hard as the other goalies in the league.

But Astedt’s early-season success is also part of a bigger journey. In Sweden, he went to high school in Angelholm and played club hockey for the Rogle BK Super Elite U-18 and U-20 teams. After Astedt graduated from high school in 2009, he did not make the pro-level team of the organization that owned his club team — the team needed two goalies, and he was the third man out.

Astedt took his next step: Pursue college hockey opportunities in the United States.

“I had no idea whatsoever about college sports,” Astedt said. “How am I going to do this? Who am I going to talk to?”

He met with Bluechip Education, a Swedish firm that helps place Swedish students in American colleges and universities.

“The organization sent out some information for me, and I started getting e-mails from different schools all over the United States,” Astedt said. “I had no idea what school was good, what league was good. What would it cost me? Will I get a scholarship?”

After staying in contact with several coaches from New England, ultimately, he chose a Division III state university in central New Hampshire.

Sight unseen.

“I went with my gut feeling,” Astedt said.

Two years ago, Plymouth State coach Craig Russell met Astedt at Boston’s Logan Airport — the first time Astedt had ever been to the United States. The initial adjustment was overwhelming. He didn’t have the comforts of home. He went from having his own room to sharing a dorm room with two American students. He had to learn to balance his schoolwork with playing hockey. He had never even heard of Plymouth, N.H., and he had no idea about his new team.

“I learned more in my first year than what I’d known my whole life,” Astedt said.

In 13 games in his freshman year at Plymouth State, Astedt finished 8-4 with an .899 saves percentage and a 3.37 goals-against average. Last year, Astedt finished 13-5-5 with a .920 saves percentage, a 2.18 goals-against average, and three shutouts.

In eight games this season, Astedt is 6-2 with a .928 saves percentage, a 1.97 goals against average and two shutouts — he’s one of three Division III goalies who lead the nation with two shutouts.

Likewise, Plymouth State is one of three teams tied for ninth in the nation in team defense, allowing an average of two goals a game.

“With the team, we have faith in ourselves that we can play against the best,” said Astedt, whose team hosts Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Thursday and Fitchburg State on Saturday, before the holiday break. “Our program is getting so much better each year, but you don’t know where you stand going into the season. We’ve been working really really hard off the ice throughout the preseason. But we didn’t really know what to expect. Winning those first couple games was a good feeling.”