By Ross Forman – Grant L. Salanty was in his first big game – in goal for his mite gold Falcons team about 10 years ago, playing for the state championship against a team that had already defeated the Falcons three times that season.
The opposing team featured Colby Saganiuk, who now skates for the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Simon Motew was the main defenseman for the Falcons, and he is now a forward for the Chicago Cougars of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL).
During warm-ups, the opposing team’s coach said, “Easy 4 goals on this goalie.”
But that didn’t happen, not even close. Salanty led the Falcons to a 2-0 victory, which included a late empty-net insurance goal.
Salanty was on his way to goaltending glory.
“Back in house league, we needed a goalie. I tried it for a game and loved it instantly. The rest is history,” Salanty, 17, who lives in Lake Bluff and is now in his second varsity season for Lake Forest High School, where he is a senior in uniform No. 43.
Salanty’s netminding career also included the Quebec International Peewee Tournament, where he played in front of a couple thousand people and had the joy of experiencing the youth hockey culture in Canada. “I’ve never seen a youth hockey tournament so publicized and large; it was awesome to be a part of this event and exchange pins with players around the world,” he said.
His hockey career also has included time in net for Team Illinois and the Chicago Young Americans.
“I started playing for Team Illinois in sixth-grade, where many of my Falcons teammates went. We had a fun season, winning the HPHL conference,” Salanty said. “Then, I went to CYA for my next three years of hockey, finishing second in state all three years.
“I got to experience many high-level games and great tournaments throughout my AAA years and all four of these years we were ranked in the top 15 in the U.S. Many of my teammates from those teams have committed to Division I schools. I had different coaches with vastly different coaching styles, and I had teams that had all the talent in the world, but we couldn’t play well together and did not reach expectations. I also had teams that did not have the best (talent), but we played very well together and won a lot more games than we expected to win at the beginning of the year.”
After playing at the AAA level for four years, it was very difficult to make the decision to play at the high school, he said. But once he did, “I realized it was one of the best decisions of my life and I have loved every second of high school hockey, from playing with my classmates to fun coaches and having lots of spectators,” Salanty said.
“The student section is amazing with over 100 kids at most home games and they really make the games electric. With AAA experience, I am able to bring a high-level of confidence into every game and remain focused during intense games since I have experience with many of those types of games.”
Salanty helped lead Lake Forest to a 4-way tie for the Champions Varsity League regular-season title last season, as the Scouts finished 15-6-1, with a league-leading 89 goals scored.
He finished with a 2.36 goals-against average.
“I haven’t had much experience as a player (myself), but I’m lucky enough to have had good goalie coaches who help me understand the game through a player’s eyes,” he said. “I’m more of a traditional goalie who doesn’t focus so much on the movement but more on putting my body in the right place to stop the puck and be ready to battle at all times.
“My first mentor on the ice was Asher Motew, who taught me the basics. He was the older goalie brother of a teammate. After that, my goalie coach Eric Levine helped me take my game to the next level with the mental part of the game and the technical. Dean Opper at CYA was instrumental in supporting me during the daily grind of AAA and Oliver Freij recently helped me focus on the small aspects of the game.”
Salanty added, “I lead by example, on and off the ice, taking my schoolwork seriously and working hard in practice. I’ve tried to keep my team focused and help my goalie partners become more confident. I tend to be a quiet leader. I put my head down, work hard and lead by example with being in shape and eating healthy.”
Salanty also has shined in his golf game, a sport he was introduced to years ago by his grandfather – and he has about 1,000 rounds of golf scored at or under his age.
Part of the reason he stopped playing AAA hockey was so he could try out for the Lake Forest golf team, as the school has a long, rich history in golf.
Salanty, who qualified for the Michigan Junior Golf Open last summer and made it to the top 32, has an offer to play Division III golf at Calvin University.
He has played varsity golf for the Scouts for two years.
“This entire golf season was a lot of fun with the team that we had. We bonded well and had fun every single day of practice and matches,” he said. “My favorite golf memory has to be watching my team come from behind to win the state championship in 2019.
“Golf helps me with hockey a lot because, as a goalie, it is important to not let my emotions run too wild on the ice. As a golfer, if you get too emotional on the course, you are going to get in your own head and not play at your highest level. This is like being a goalie and helps me be a better goalie.
“Hockey has helped me a lot with golf because, as a goalie, I’ve always needed to keep my head up after a goal and bounce back to be ready for the next shot. This carries directly onto the golf course; when you have a bad hole, it is crucial that you can bounce back.”
**Photos Courtesy, Grant Salanty**
Stopping Slapshots With … Lake Forest Goalie Grant L. Salanty
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Henrik Lundqvist
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Happy Gilmore
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Peanut butter toast with bananas
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Donald Trump
Off The Ice: Enjoys playing video games or playing the stock market with his dad
Strength: “I lift 5 times a week to keep my body sharp and improve my strength and explosiveness in the net.”
Little-Known Facts: “My first words were the McDonald’s theme song.”
Family Ties: “I grew up going to all my siblings sporting events; I am the youngest of 4. They have inspired me to be level-headed in a game and work hard to achieve my goals.”
Lake Forest Head Coach Steve Sarauer: “Coach Sarauer has been an inspiration. He is no-nonsense, always expects our best efforts and I love how he will never let us get pushed around.”
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Matty Slobodnik
Hardest Slapshot on Lake Forest: Connor Kuchman
Most Accurate Shot: Nick Berrintini
Fastest Skater: Robert Medica
Best High School Uniforms (other than LF): New Trier