SOUTH BEND — Spring Break proved to be an interesting week
for Michigan’s goaltenders. Sophomore Al Montoya was forced
to leave in the first game of both series over break, forcing Noah
Ruden to come in mid-game. But last weekend, he came in under
unusual situations.

Late in the second period of Friday night’s game, Montoya
stopped a shot from Notre Dame’s Wes O’Neill, but
couldn’t control the puck. He allowed the puck to come loose,
and attempted to dive forward and cover up for a faceoff. The puck
was still loose as Montoya was on the ground, and the Irish’s
Jason Paige slammed home an easy powerplay tally to extend Notre
Dame’s lead to 3-0. To make matters worse, Montoya had pulled
his left hamstring and was helped off the ice.

Sophomore Noah Ruden came into the game to relieve Montoya, and
then started in his place on Saturday. The normally resilient
Montoya had played in all 43 games last season, and missed just two
games this year to play in the World Junior Tournament.

“I’m not worried,” said Michigan coach Red
Berenson after Friday’s game. “(Ruden) can come in and
play. He played in big games, and it will be a good challenge for
our team.”

It was definitely a challenge on Saturday, as Ruden was making
just his third career start and his first in the CCHA. Junior David
Moss didn’t help Ruden, taking two penalties in the first
seven minutes of the game.

On the second Notre Dame powerplay, Notre Dame forward Mike
Walsh scored on a deflection off of freshman Jason Dest to give the
Irish an early 1-0 lead. Notre Dame finished with just 15 shots on
Ruden, and he made 11 saves.

“Most of the guys showed (more effort than Friday), and I
didn’t show (up),” said Ruden following
Saturday’s 5-2 loss. “It was a big opportunity for me,
and we came out playing, and I didn’t get into a rhythm. I
allowed some goals I shouldn’t have. It just wasn’t a
good effort today.”

The week before, Ruden also saw some playing time as a result of
an unusual call by referee Mark Wilkins. Last Friday against
Bowling Green, with Michigan up 6-2, the Falcons’ Brian
Escobedo took advantage of a scrum of players in the Michigan net,
and scored a goal with Montoya out of position. Montoya was clearly
upset that a penalty for interference on Bowling Green wasn’t
called. As a result, Montoya skated over to Wilkins for an
explanation and after some discussion, was whistled for a 10-minute
misconduct.

At most levels, when a goaltender is called for a penalty, the
bench designates a player to serve the penalty. But in college
hockey, when a goaltender is called for a major, he must do the
time himself.

“I had no idea that was a rule in college hockey,”
Montoya said. “I didn’t think I did anything different
than I had all year. I guess (I said something I shouldn’t
have), but you just get caught up in the emotions.”

Berenson indicated that he intended to put Ruden into the game
before the penalty was called if Montoya allowed another goal.
After Montoya left the box, Ruden continued to play the rest of the
game in relief.

“That’s my job,” Ruden said. “I’ve
been doing it for the past two years now. It’s not always the
easiest thing, but it’s part of being ready at all
times.”

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