The fifth-year senior goalie from Sarnia, Ontario, is 52-39-10 in his career, one win from tying the school record set by NHL veteran Dan Ellis. Faulkner has bounced back from an inconsistent junior season to go 14-5-2 and rank among the national leaders in winning percentage, and his 2.72 goals-against average is consistent with his career GAA of 2.67 that ranks third all-time at UNO — and is the best among goalies with more than one season in net. He’s second in school history in saves (2,441), fifth in save percentage (.902), and his six shutouts — all during his sophomore season — are one behind Ellis’ school record.
Q: At some point it seems pretty obvious you’re going to break Dan Ellis’ school record for wins. What does that mean to you?
A: You try not to think about that stuff too much. You can’t give enough credit to the guys playing in front of you. They’re out there battling just as hard as I am.
Q: Have you gotten to know him at all?
A: He does spend quite a bit of time here, and I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy. He’s a genuine individual and he’s obviously had a very successful career. He’s come back and taught us a few things, passed things along that he’s learned through his experiences.
Q: Help me on my geography. Where is Sarnia, Ontario, and what’s it like there?
A: It’s right on the southern tip of Lake Huron, right on the Michigan border, an hour and 20 minutes northeast of Detroit. I’m honestly a 40-second drive to get into the United States. I think we spend more time in the United States sometimes. A little shopping over in Port Huron, and I know gas right now — it’s cheaper to pay $6 in bridge tolls to fill up your tank (in Port Huron) and you probably still save $20 (compared to getting gas in Ontario).
Q: So, born and raised in Sarnia?
A: I was actually born and raised in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, about 10 hours north of Sarnia. I moved to Sarnia when I was 10.
Q: We were talking about how cold it’s been here, but 10 hours north of anywhere in Ontario, that’s got to be real cold, doesn’t it?
A: Yeah, we had fun winters as a kid. You’d get the sleds out and you could pretty much find anywhere you wanted to go on the GTs and sleds and toboggans — all that stuff. It was a great place to play hockey — numerous friends had backyard rinks, the schools would put up rinks and the boards. Anytime you wanted ice time, it was not hard to find.
Q: How big a town is Kirkland Lake?
A: It was about 13,000. It’s probably a lot smaller now (around 8,000) — it’s a mining town (gold originally). We went up a couple summers after we left and it seemed like every second or third house was for sale. … But it’s a great spot for the summer. It’s beautiful up there. But there’s a little more isolation than a city the size of Omaha.
Q: So how did you wind up in Omaha?
A: I’d already gone on an official visit to Colgate and (assistant Todd) Jones saw me in a playoff game, and Coach (Mike) Kemp saw the elimination game that we lost and I talked to him afterwards. We set up an official visit, and that’s how the ball started rolling.
Q: If not UNO, would it have been Colgate?
A: They ended up getting another guy. I was in talks with Bemidji a little bit, but we were still working things out. But this city and school, the organization that Omaha has, sold itself. It’s been a fabulous place to play.
Q: Bemidji? You could have been the next, or maybe the first, Dan Bakala?
A: I don’t know. Once I committed here, that put that one under water.
Q: If not college hockey, what was the plan?
A: My goal was to play college hockey. I’m pretty fortunate to be in the spot I am today. I was drafted by the OHL in my draft year there, and I went (to camp) just for the experience, but in my mind I was pretty determined to go to school.
Q: And if not hockey, what else?
A: Good question. I got lucky. I do fairly well in school and I got my degree taken care of now — business degree, finance major. I’m not a good golfer, so that wouldn’t have worked out.
Q: Did you play any other sports?
A: I played a little high school soccer, a little bit of basketball, but nothing as serious as hockey. Growing up playing AAA (hockey), you have to devote most of your time to that. I tried out for the high school football team in grade 9 and the first practice I broke my thumb, so I don’t think my hockey coach wanted me to go down that avenue any more. After day one, I called it a career.
Q: So the ice (at the CenturyLink Center) was already in rough shape Friday because of the (U.S. Nationals) figure skating, and it got even worse after the basketball game was played there Saturday afternoon. They were doing a lot of work on the ice, especially in front of the crease, right?
A: Yeah, you could see right down to the cement. You never want to take anything for granted — you never know if you’ll catch an edge in there, not just myself but defensemen and guys curling in front of the net. … Definitely not ideal, but you’ve got to battle through that type of thing.
Q: You guys have been kind of the surprise team in the WCHA this year. What’s that been like?
A: We want to play as many games as we can this year. We believe we have something truly special here. We’re just going to show up every night and hopefully the wins keep coming.
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