Often in ice hockey goaltenders have the most obscure pregame rituals. Still, graduating senior Claire Butorac gives fellow netminders a run for their money when it comes to preparing herself for a game.
Butorac needs to do two things consistently before every contest: go to the highest point in the rink to sit and tape her stick, and meet with her teammates to play sewer ball. (Sewer ball is common for hockey players and is a two-touch game that focuses on keeping the soccer ball off the ground to warm up mentally and physically.)
A soccer player in her youth, Butorac was naturally good at sewer ball and has made a habit of playing before every game. Although her two rituals may seem common to most hockey players, it’s what Butorac does before returning to the locker room that is the most interesting.
“My pregame ritual is a little funny. My teammates do make fun of it a bit,” explained Butorac with a laugh. “I played soccer competitively growing up so I like to play sewer ball. After we are done playing, I have to get a hundred touches consecutively before I can go into the locker room and get ready for the game.”
Although Butorac has strayed away from soccer as she has grown in the game of hockey, she always finds fun in returning to the sport before games.
Butorac has had the classic Minnesota upbringing, playing hockey from age two. Her two brothers are the reason she started playing hockey because she always wanted to keep up with them.
It is fair enough to say she has done a great job in doing so, earning several career accolades along her career path in the sport including a Miss Hockey semi-finalist honor in 2018, over 50 career points as a Maverick, three WCHA All-Academic Team honors, and much more. Hockey was not the only sport Butorac excelled in before college. She also had collegiate coaches’ interest in her lacrosse skills.
“I joined lacrosse my sophomore year of high school because my best friends played,” explained Butorac. “It was going to be my fun sport, but I fell in love with it. Honestly, I loved lacrosse so much and had a few lacrosse coaches reach out, but I had already committed to hockey. I knew my career path was set.”
She says coming from Andover, Minnesota to the Mavericks turned out to be the best choice after high school, and a small part in getting her to Minnesota State came from Butorac’s familiarity with fellow Adover Huskie, McKenzie Sederberg. Sederberg, a former Maverick defenseman who also committed to Mankato from Andover, played with Butorac for two years in high school.
“I was a couple of years younger than McKenzie so she had already committed and left Andover before I had really started looking,” explained Butorac. “I don’t want to say that she was a huge influence but it was definitely a pro to coming here.”
Butorac said she tried to do the same in recently helping acquire current junior forward Jamie Nelson to the team.
“Then my linemate of so many years, Jamie, came here,” said Butorac. “I don’t think I was much of an in, and I tried to stay out of her recruiting process. In the end, she ended up choosing here, and I definitely loved having her here.”
Upon graduation, Butorac has a few options on the table as far as jobs go which include either finding a job related to her major, continuing to play hockey at a pro level, or coaching hockey. One thing is for certain, though, and that is that she will be graduating with an exercise science major along with a minor in sports medicine.
Right now, Butorac is focused on staying in shape in case an opportunity arises to continue playing hockey while also taking care of and enjoying her new golden retriever puppy on her path to graduation.
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu
Header photo: Senior forward, Claire Butorac, completes her Maverick career with a total of twenty one goals with seven of them from this season. (Lilly Anderson)