DETROIT — It’s not often that a Spartan feels
sympathetic for a Wolverine. But after Saturday’s 1-0
Michigan State victory at Joe Louis Arena, Michigan State
goaltender Dominic Vicari could relate to his counterpart —
Michigan goaltender Al Montoya.

After denying the Michigan State attack for more than 54 minutes
of Saturday’s game, the Spartans finally struck gold. Forward
Mike Lalonde fired a backhand over Montoya’s right shoulder
and into the net. The goal proved to be the game winner for the
Spartans.

“You’ve got to sympathize because, you know,
you’ve played the position so long,” Vicari said.
“You just know he’d like to have that one back, and I
know that’s what he’s thinking.”

Vicari is the one person on Michigan State’s team who may
have known what was going through Montoya’s mind after the
goal. Vicari has developed a friendship with Montoya that dates
back a few years.

“They’ve known each other for a while now, because
they both worked for me in the summer time (at goaltending
camps),” Michigan goaltending coach Stan Matwijiw said.

Both players also shared a unique experience in December when
they played together on the gold-medal-winning World Junior team
for the United States. Those nights spent together brought their
friendship to another level.

“I think being in the same room for three weeks (with the
World Junior team), and both being goalies — we just hit it
off,” Vicari said. “We celebrated Christmas and New
Year’s Eve (together). You can’t do that with many
people.”

When you look at some of the similarities that the goaltenders
share, it’s no wonder that the two have grown to be friends.
Both of them are considered to be among the top goalies in the
CCHA, despite the fact that they are still teenagers. They’ve
both been young journeymen, playing hockey in multiple states for
multiple teams.

Both goalies possess something else that all goaltenders need to
have: guts.

Vicari played part of a period with dull skates. This can be a
particular problem for goalies who shift back and forth when the
puck changes sides of the zone. It can also lead to injury if the
player looses his footing. Vicari didn’t care about these
factors.

“I wanted to call a timeout so they could sharpen his
skate, but he didn’t want to,” Comley said.
“He’s a courageous goalie.”

Montoya’s bravery was on full display on Saturday,
particularly on one play. Late in the second period, with the score
knotted at zero, Montoya rushed out of his net to get a loose puck.
He ended up going nearly all the way to the blueline, and then
slipped and had to make a soccer-style kick to keep a Michigan
State player from getting the puck.

“Al’s a risk-taker, and there’s nothing wrong
with that,” Matwijiw said. “That’s the way he
plays. After a while, you get to a point where you come to expect
it from him.”

For Matwijiw, Saturday’s game provided him with mixed
emotions — both goalies played extremely well, and yet his
team lost. But recognizing that Vicari, who Matwijiw’s known
since the age of 11, was the winning goalie helped ease things a
little bit.

“They both played well, and obviously as a coach, to me
the wrong team comes out on top,” Matwijiw said. “But
that’s the kind of score I want to see — a 1-0 game
when my two guys are playing like that.”

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