On Michigan Goaltending


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The visiting MICHIGAN WOLVERINES have already announced that freshman ZACH NAGELVOORT will be the goaltender standing between the pipes on Friday night at the Pegula Ice Arena in State College when the nine-time NCAA champion drops the puck with PENN STATE for the very first time ever.

One must bear in mind the fact that Nagelvoort did not even make his first career start for the Wolverines until their first three games on this 2013/14 NCAA schedule had already passed. Since that time, however, the surprising 20-year-old homegrown rookie from Holland, Michigan, has been tapped by head coach RED BERENSON to start sixteen of the Wolverines’ last nineteen games and has made himself virtually irreplaceable in the process. There is no question that Nagelvoort’s numbers this term (17 ga, 1.91 avg, .936 svpct) have been of the standout variety — only two netminders in all of college hockey who have appeared in at least one-third of their team’s games this season (senior Clay Witt of Northeastern and sophomore Connor Hellebuyck from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell) currently sport a save percentage that is higher than that of the de facto Michigan first choice.

“I don’t think we need to talk about starters right now or who’s the starting goalie,” the University of Michigan bench boss diplomatically stated last week after the Wolverines had defeated the visiting University of Wisconsin on Saturday night by virtue of the skills competition tie-breaker better known as the shootout. “Right now, Zach’s playing really well and we will see how it goes down the line.”

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Only six netminders in all of NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey who have appeared in at least one-third of their team’s games this season currently have a goals-against-average lower than that of University of Michgan freshman goaltender ZACH NAGELVOORT (35).
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It is, perhaps, very easy to forget it was actually Michigan backup netminder STEVE RACINE who closed out the 2012/13 NCAA campaign by starting the Wolverines’ last ten games in succession while posting the impressive record of eight wins against just one loss in those pivotal end of season contests.

It was also Racine (6 ga, 2.81 avg, .925 svpct) who was guarding the Michigan goal cage when the Wolverines dropped currently # 2 ranked Boston College 3-1 to open their season this past October. But very shortly thereafter, the unlucky 20-year-old sophomore from Williamsville, New York, was forced to leave the ice in the third period of Michigan’s third game of the season against the University of New Hampshire and the stellar form of Nagelvoort has translated into limited opportunities for anybody else. Indeed, Racine, who easily led the Wolverines last season with 22 starts (2.65 avg, .899 svpct), has made only three appearances since that fateful non-conference clash with the Wildcats on the road in Manchester.

At this time a year ago, Racine was still right in the midst of a three-way horse race for the right to be the Michigan number one in net. But then 18-year-old freshman JARED RUTLEDGE (10 ga, 4.24 avg, .854 svpct) surrendered 11 goals in just less than 100 minutes of a two-game series against the University of Notre Dame in early February and the rest is history. Rutledge, of course, did not return to Ann Arbor this season and now turns out for the Green Bay Gamblers in the developmental United States Hockey League.

The third goaltender in Berenson’s mix last season, ADAM JANECYK (11 ga, 3.46 avg, .892 svpct) is still with the Wolverines program. After having made eight starts for Michigan last term, the 23-year-old homegrown senior from Ada has now settled nicely into the role of third-string netminder. Altogether, the veteran Janecyk has appeared in a total of 17 career NCAA games (3.39 avg, .894 svpct) during his time in Ann Arbor.

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University of Michigan goaltender STEVE RACINE (1) could very well make his seventh start of this 2013/14 NCAA season when the Wolverines meet the Penn State Nittany Lions in the upcoming two-game Big Ten Conference series at the brand new Pegula Ice Arena in State College.

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