HUDSON, NH -- “We’re a skilled team. We just have to follow the coach and execute the plays that he gives us,” said Atherton, who owns the second best save percentage (.932) and the fourth best goals against average (2.23) among players with at least 500 minutes played as of Jan. 26. “We’re just now starting to jell more. We’ve been through a lot of players this season, but the group we have now is doing really well.”
It’s the level headed mentality of Atherton that general manager/head coach Bill Flanagan said has helped to guide this year’s Cyclones team in the National Collegiate Development Conference.
“He’s just calm, and he’s very calming [to his teammates],” said Flanagan. “He doesn’t get rattled very often. He makes the saves he needs to make, and he also makes some saves where it was like ‘Wow, did he just save that?’”
On Jan. 15, Atherton played the third period of the NCDC All-Star Game, and was able to complete a shutout for the National All-Stars to the tune of 13-0. It’s really no surprise to Flanagan or anyone in the Cyclones organization that he can do this.
“He is a guy who has been in our program for multiple years,” said Flanagan. “He’s probably one of the best goaltenders in the league, and he’s proven it by the numbers. He gives us a chance every game to be competitive.”
Atherton’s junior experience with the Cyclones goes back to 2014. He spent last year on the West Coast, but came back because he had that trust in the Cyclones organization to get him where he wants to go – NCAA Division 1 hockey.
It helps when your first game with your new NCDC team in October was a 30-save win over the then-undefeated Islanders Hockey Club.
“I think I’ve definitely improved this season more so than other seasons,” said Atherton. “I go into every game thinking it is my time to get some college looks, or it’s over.”
“He has some Division 1 interest and that is where his end goal is,” added Flanagan.
Hunter Luhmann and Sage Englundjoined Atherton as NCDC All-Stars, and Luhmann scored a goal in the game. Englund led the Cyclones with 42 points after 35 games, and Luhmann had 31 points through 33 games.
“They have obviously been our offensive catalysts and very instrumental in leading our younger group,” said Flanagan. “We have the youngest team in the league and they’ve done a great job of bringing those young guys along.