It’s the year of the goalie in college hockey

by Published: Feb 20, 2013

022013_Motte_BrockAs the NHL draft draws closer, teams are absolutely sali­vat­ing at some of the prospects who will be eli­gi­ble for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Sure, there are plenty of guys that can put the puck in the net, but the NHL may have never seen this many play­ers who can keep it out in col­lege hockey.

To qual­ify for 30th place in save per­cent­age in the coun­try, a goal­tender would have to save nearly 92 per­cent of the shots he faces.

For comparison’s sake, the NHL’s 30th-place goalie, Detroit Red Wings’ own Jimmy Howard, saves exactly 90 per­cent of the shots he’s faced.

The goal­tend­ing com­pe­ti­tion has never been bet­ter in col­lege hockey, which is evi­denced by Ferris State’s goal­tender, CJ Motte. Motte is in his sopho­more sea­son, and his first as the num­ber one goalie on the team.

“Well, when CJ plays, he is extremely calm the entire game,” junior left wing Garret Thompson said. “He doesn’t take short­cuts, which shows a lot of character.”

Only two goal­tenders in the entire coun­try have played more min­utes than him. Air Force’s Jason Torf and Western Michigan’s Frank Slubowski are those two. Motte has a bet­ter save per­cent­age than both of them, cur­rently tied for 19th with a .927 mark.

There have been sea­sons in the NHL when a goalie with a .927 save per­cent­age is in con­tention for the Vezina Goaltender of the Year Award.

Motte is hav­ing a sea­son com­pa­ra­ble to the final sea­son of for­mer Michigan State goal­tender and NHL All-Star Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. In his final sea­son with the Spartans, Miller posted a .936 save per­cent­age in 40 games.

It speaks to the level of con­sis­tency Motte has shown against his level of com­pe­ti­tion. In his first sea­son, he has been one of the most solid back­stops in the coun­try, and has two more sea­sons of eli­gi­bil­ity to improve upon these lofty numbers.

“I think at some point in his career he will sign with an NHL orga­ni­za­tion,” Ferris Hockey head coach Bob Daniels said. “Hopefully he’ll get a chance to get called up and play somewhere.”

In CCHA play alone Motte is the min­utes leader, third with a .934 save per­cent­age and first in total saves.

The goal­tenders in the CCHA alone are so tal­ented in com­par­i­son to the rest of their respec­tive teams that last –place Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand has man­aged to stop pucks at a .931 clip, despite his 6−12−1 record.

“Save per­cent­age is deceiv­ing at times,” Daniels said. “While CJ’s is good, the qual­ity of chances he’s faced have been bet­ter because he has a young defense in front of him. He pro­vides teach­able moments in that when they make a mis­take, I can say, ‘Well, you made a mis­take, but CJ made a stop, so don’t do it again.’”

A mark of a team with a long play­off run ahead is hot goal­tend­ing. This year, it may be whose putting the puck in the net, because all of the goalies are just plain on fire.