Al Montoya has become more than just a shooting target, and Michigan coach Red Berenson is not pleased.
After reviewing the game tape of this past weekend’s series against Ferris State, Berenson discovered his goaltender being interfered with in two of four goals he allowed in the Wolverines’ 4-3 loss on Saturday night.
“It was contact that could have been avoided,” Berenson said. “When you watch the tapes, it’s really disappointing to see it happening.”
The first was when Bulldogs forward Jeff Legue deflected the puck, trickling it between Montoya’s legs. Berenson saw that contact was made before the puck came on net as multiple Bulldogs crashed the crease. The second was the fourth and eventual game-winning goal, as Montoya’s leg was hooked when Ferris State was on a three-on-one break. Berenson displayed his displeasure in his weekly report to the league.
“If that would have happened in the CCHA playoffs, it would have been no goal,” Berenson said.
This has not been the first time this season that opposing teams have attempted to rattle the goaltender who turns 18 in eight days. Montoya came to Michigan with a reputation of getting involved with the emotion of the game, and this has caused almost every Michigan opponent to attempt to get in his head.
“Teams think that because he is young that he’s going to get rattled,” goaltending coach Stan Matwijiw said. “I think he’s handled the contact very well. We’ve had talks with him, and we’ve just told him to keep his head and not get too rattled up about it.”
In Friday night’s game, Montoya received an unsportmanlike conduct penalty after retaliating against Ferris State’s Phil Lewandowski. It was after a night in which the Bulldogs were going right after Montoya, picking up two penalties in the process.
The coaching staff has talked with Montoya all season about keeping his emotions down, but it’s difficult to do so when so much is on the line.
“The crowd gets going and then you get going, and the refs’ making bad calls,” Montoya said. “It’s just all emotion. You just have to find a way to shut it down and just go out there and play the game.”
While the Wolverines are trying to do their part, there’s a consensus that the officials are going to have to enforce the issue.
“We are hoping that the refs are going to start to see the tendency here, that every game this is happening,” Matwijiw said.
Berenson stressed that Montoya cannot be used as a crutch even with a depleted defense.
“If he gets 35 shots a game, then we’re going to be in trouble,” Berenson said. “If we keep it down to 20-25, then he has a chance of keeping the goals against down. If we keep the goals against under three, we’re going to be in every game. But if its over three, we’re going to put ourselves in a vulnerable position.”