Falcon native, Tigers product Buchholz leaving mark with NA3HL’s Bighorns, adds monthly honor to resume
Eric Buchholz made the jump from Colorado high school hockey to the EHL’s Walpole Express last season and had an adjustment to junior hockey.
He only started one game in goal and was No. 3 on the netminding depth chart for Walpole.
All that changed this season when the 2001-born Falcon native, who turns 21 on March 10, joined the NA3HL’s Helena Bighorns.
“Mike Greene was my coach growing up since I started and he asked me if I wanted to come play with everyone I grew up with and it was a relatively easy decision,” Buchholz said. “Everyone from my Colorado Springs Tigers’ 16U AAA team asked me to come skate with them over the summer to train and then Mike started asking me more questions about coming up to Helena.
“There were a few kids from my old high school team (Doherty) that I knew were playing in the NA3HL for the season. One of them being Thomas Hollon who’s been on our team for a few months now. Once I found out most of the Tigers kids I grew up with were going here, I felt like it was a pretty easy decision to come play here.”
Buchholz has had a career resurgence in Helena and was named the NA3HL Goaltender of the Month for February with a 6-0-0 record, a 2.15 GAA and a .943 save percentage, stopping 217 of the 230 shots he faced in February.
Overall, Buchholz went 24-2-2 during the regular season with a 2.02 GAA, a .939 save percentage and three shutouts.
“Helena’s atmosphere and small-town feel definitely intrigued me about coming here, but I mostly came here to be with everyone I’ve played with,” said Buchholz. “It’s definitely a unique scenario where this is our last ride together and we don’t want it any other way than to finish with a Fraser Cup championship.
“Going from Colorado high school hockey to the EHL was tough. I was the third goalie on our team that year and only started one game but practicing everyday with guys mostly two years older prepared me for this year.”
Looking back further, Buchholz explained how he first discovered the game of hockey.
“My dad was in the military stationed in Germany when I was born and he was playing hockey there, so I was introduced at a very young age,” Buchholz said. “It definitely helped that the Avs won the Stanley Cup the year I was born so that also played a role. Patrick Roy was a huge role model for me because it got me started playing goalie.”
Growing up, Buchholz played for the Tigers through his 16U season and then played at Doherty for his senior year of high school.
“Mike Greene was my coach for so many years and he’s been the most positive hockey influence I’ve probably ever had,” Buchholz said.
Last season, Buchholz committed to play for NCAA Division III Rivier University, but he said there are other options he is exploring at this point.
“My goal is still to play D-I hockey,” Buchholz said. “I think everyone playing hockey strives to play at that level. I want to either get a criminal justice or history degree but after college, I want to play pro hockey. I’m not committed to Rivier anymore but there’s still an opportunity me to go back there.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 2, 2022)