There are unwritten rules in hockey.
Unwritten rule 85.a says don’t mess with the opposing team’s goalie.
Unwritten rule 85.b states that if you violate 85.a, expect that goalie’s team to annihilate you and your teammates.
On Friday night Notre Dame violated 85.a and found out how badly Michigan was going to enforce 85.b.
With 14:08 left in the second period, Michigan goalie Al Montoya was tripped by one of the Fighting Irish after the whistle had blown. Before the perpetrator could get into his next stride he found five Wolverines circling, then pounding on him.
“It makes me feel real confident as a goaltender when my teammates will be there for me and stick up for me no matter what,” Montoya said.
It was obvious that the five Wolverines on the ice – defensemen Nick Martens and Danny Richmond and forwards Milan Gajic, John Shouneyia and Jeff Tambellini – were only thinking about avenging their blindsided teammate and not the size advantage that each of the Fighting Irish had.
Forward Michael Chin had two inches and 26 pounds on Martens.
Senior Jake Wiegand had three inches and 46 pounds on the freshman Richmond.
Defenseman Chris Trick was five inches taller and 39 pounds heavier than Tambellini.
Shouneyia and Gajic were outsized against their two opponents as well, giving three inches and 15 pounds each to forward Alex Lalonde and defenseman Evan Nielson.
Yet, the Wolverines stood their ground in the five-on-five standoff. Shouneyia even took control of his bout with Lalonde thanks to a solid headlock.
“It was a good sign that both teams were emotionally involved in the game … but it’s unnecessary and we don’t need (any fighting) after the whistle,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “You worry about the other team taking liberties with your goalie.”
Montoya was hit unintentionally just once after the 10-man melee, and even Notre Dame goalie Morgan Cey felt his fair share of whacks when Michigan forward Charlie Henderson was penalized for accidentally running into him.
“I hope (the final shot on Montoya) wasn’t intentional,” Berenson said. “You don’t want to get into the battle of running into each other’s goalies. That’s why I don’t think they would. If they were running into our goalie and we run into theirs, that eliminates two great goalies.”
Bouncing back: For Montoya, the hits he took on Friday aren’t the only thing he’ll have to recover from this weekend.
The freshman goalie gave up four goals for the third time this season in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Fighting Irish – the first two letdowns were against North Dakota in a 5-4 overtime loss and Bowling Green in a 6-4 win.
Michigan fans can take solace in the fact that each time Montoya has given up four or more goals in a game, he has rebounded spectacularly. He shut out Merrimack following the North Dakota loss and gave up just one goal to the Falcons after allowing four the previous night.
“I’m going to put (the Notre Dame) game behind me, move on and play at my best next weekend,” Montoya said.