Janna Hutz
Janna Hutz
Janna Hutz

Very confident in his quickness, Montoya regularly plays out in
the front of the crease. The 19-year-old sophomore seems to enjoy
the physical aspect of the game and isn’t afraid to poke,
strike and even cross-check any opponent that invades his

“He’s very aggressive,” goalie coach Stan
Matwijiw said. “He’s out in the shooter’s face
— he doesn’t give them much to shoot at.”


Puck handling

Opponents constantly dump the puck deep into the Michigan zone,
but Montoya deters possible attacks by vacating the goal and
swiftly retrieving the puck. He has a knack of catching teams
offhand during line changes by flipping the puck up to wide-open

“It’s just such an advantage to our overall game
scheme in how honest he keeps other teams — especially on
line changes — because they know if they make a bad line
change, he’s moving the puck up and we’re going in on a
2-on-0,” Matwijiw said. “How many goalies do you see do
that? That’s a huge advantage to our defensemen, knowing that
they’ve got a guy that’s as skilled as he is back there
playing the puck.”



Montoya says that he played “everything” growing up,
including basketball, soccer and football. In fact, he almost quit
hockey to play football during his freshman year of high school;
tight end was his position of choice.

Said Matwijiw: “For a big guy, a guy his size (6-foot-2,
185 pounds), he’s very athletic.”



Following most games in which Montoya excels, other Wolverines
are asked to comment on their goalie’s performance. Their
response is programmed, just as that by Matwijiw:
“That’s Al. He gives us a chance to win every time we
hit the ice.” Montoya says that he loves being the last line
of defense.

“He’s a leader by example. Every night our team
knows that we’re going to get good goaltending. That’s
a lot to say for a goalie, when his team is never unsure of their
goaltending,” Matwijiw said.


Willingness to learn

At the end of the weekend, Montoya receives notes and a DVD from
Matwijiw that critiques Montoya’s play.

“He’ll go over the video with my notes and replay
situations, so that he understands exactly what I was talking
about, what I was seeing, what he could have done differently, and
he changes it,” Matwijiw said. “And that’s very
important at this point — at this level — because, as
successful as he’s been, he still has room for improvement.
And guys that have played years in the National Hockey League still
have room for improvement.”



The Glenview, Ill., native started skating at the age of three.
Growing up, Montoya always played in the older age groups. Michigan
did not have a goalie lined up for the 2002-03 year, so he
fast-tracked his way through high school in three years and started
for the Wolverines as a 17-year-old freshman.

Said Matwijiw: “He looks for perfection in his


Ice awareness

Montoya never loses the puck … or anyone on the opposing
team. Montoya describes ice awareness simply: “Say (the
opponents) are coming down on me in a 2-on-1. The guy without the
puck on the offensive team is busting down the lane and going
backdoor. I know that that guy’s there and I know what kind
of stick he’s got and where he’s going to put it before
he does.”

Said Matwijiw: “Ice awareness is knowing where everything
is on the ice. He’s never surprised. He knows where
everything is at and he’s always one step ahead of the game,
and that’s why he doesn’t allow weak goals.”



Stan the Man:

Goalie coach Stan Matwijiw (Mah-twiv) is in his fifth season at
Michigan. Every game, he takes detailed notes on Al Montoya’s
play, splitting them into positives and negatives. The following
are notes from a game against Northern Michigan on Oct. 26, a 5-2
win. As you can tell, it seems as if goalie and coach speak in
another language.

First period, positive comments


• “Gloveside, great job holding white ice, shot
misses blockerside.”


• “2-1gloveside, again great patience holding your
ice, bud. That’s confidence.”


• “PK D-man sliding in backdoor blockerside. Great
read and ice awareness, Al. Good push-pull b-fly to get

First period, negative comments:

17:45:  “Dump glove wrapped, did Cooke call for
‘Play it?’ If so ‘Play it’ was the right

8:42:  “Dump gloveside, #8 calls ‘Play
it’ which you do, but make the safe play and use the boards.
You try and make the direct pass which #8 misses and your winger
misses. We never get the puck out and at … ”

8:32:  “1st Goal — nice extended leg on 1st
shot. On your recovery you’re up and there in time but you
needed to come back more to the post to take the short side angle

Second period, positive comments:

19:16: “GT (TIME) #4.”

17:23:  “Dump fall short blockerside, smart play to
bring it back behind goalline and ‘wrap.’ ”

14:01:  “ *Note* — Al, our movement has
gotten so much better when recovering from initial shots.
You’re now staying low and keeping your butt down while
boxing on rebounds.”

7:23:  “PK winger flying own gloveside bad L to the
net, Great job staying up and holding strong post

2:17:  “PP #6 cuts b-g off wing, great step out and
seal with b-fly.”

Second period, negative comments:

15:30:  “What an ugly (expletive) play, man. Not much
I could say about that, Al. Brutal!!”

Third period, positive comments:

14:42:  “2-1 blockerside, smart read, Al, shooter was
on his backhand, so you play deeper playing pass. SMART!”

14:25:  “Face-off check.”

9:11:  “All this weekend you have looked very calm
and under control, every save you’re making is made with
confidence. Fun to watch.”

Third period, negative comments:

8:20:  “Be carefully making cross-ice pass Al.
Remember play K.I.S.S. Don’t try and do to much.”



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