(Photo Credit: Russell Hons Photography)
So far, to date, this has been an interesting season for the University of North Dakota hockey team. During the offseason, the Fighting Hawks lost nine players from last season’s national championship team. One of them just helped the Vancouver Canucks erase a two-goal lead and defeat the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Yes, defenseman Troy Stecher would look very good on this year’s Fighting Hawks roster.
But I digress.
So far, this season, UND is 7-5-3 (.566) and went 2-3-3 (.4375) during the month of November, that’s not great, but it’s not the end of the world either. As I opined yesterday, the UND hockey team is known for their second half surges and late season runs to catapult themselves into the post season. This season could be another one of those years. Frankly, they’re going to have to if they want to play in the postseason.
Not Cam’s Fault
I know I’ve covered this subject a lot but goaltending has been a sore spot for some UND hockey fans. Some of these same fans would like to see Matej Tomek get a start in net. I would be willing to bet that Tomek isn’t going to ride in on a white horse and save the team. It’s not in the cards.
Right now, Tomek is listed as the team’s third-string goalie. From the two times that I’ve watched the UND hockey team practice this season, Ryan Anderson has looked just as good as Tomek has.
Check out this snippet from this week’s game notes. Per Jayson Hajdu: Through 15 games this season, Johnson leads the nation in minutes played (905:31) and is tied for the national lead in shutouts (3). He is 7-5-3 with a 2.19 GAA and a .908 save percentage. You can see that Johnson isn’t playing that bad. The problem is that UND is ranked 28th in the nation for scoring.
Johnson has started 45 consecutive games in a row, that’s second-longest streak in UND’s storied history. The leader in that category is former UND goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who started 55 games in a row from 2006- 08. I fully expect that Johnson will probably break that streak this season. I guess we will see.
Well this week, during the Wednesday hockey press conference, I asked head coach Brad Berry if he had considered playing someone else in net. The thought has crossed his mind.
“Yeah absolutely,” Berry said. “We’ve tried getting someone else in there. At the same time, when you have a goaltender coming off two shutouts, back-to-back shutouts in an environment that normally you don’t have a lot of success number one.
“Yet, winning two games, that vies for a chance to keep playing games. He’s playing well. Where we’re at right now is not because of Cam, he’s done a great good job. Again, he’s proved that on a national champ run and he’s proven that again.”
Tim Hennessy’s Take on the Goaltending
Check out what Tim Hennessy had to say on the issue. It’s at the 4:30 mark from Hennessy on Hockey podcast.
Here’s a summary of what Hennessy said…. “I’ve heard the grumbling and I’ve read the message boards. The fans have taken dead aim at the North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson. Reading Brad Schlossman’s article on goaltending, it’s not Cam Johnson. It’s lack of scoring goals.”