Al Montoya and Dominic Vicari were the men between the pipes on Friday night at Yost Ice Arena, but neither was the most famous goalie in the building.
Marty Turco — the netminder for both the 1996 and 1998 national championship Wolverine squads — was in attendance to witness the latest chapter in the state’s most storied college hockey feud. Turco is currently the goalie for the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
“This is the biggest (rivalry Michigan) has,” Turco said. “My whole tenure, my whole career, both teams were good, so there was always something on the line. It was fun, it was very intense and these games made our season. These were the ones we always looked back on, whether we lost or won and kind of figured out how our season went accordingly.”
Turco, a four-year starter in Ann Arbor, still holds Michigan’s career record of 15 shutouts. Montoya is three shy of the mark with 12. During Turco’s Michigan career, he set the all-time NCAA record for career wins by a goalie with 127 and led Michigan to four consecutive Frozen Four appearances. Last season, he started for the Western Conference All-Stars in the NHL All-Star Game.
But Turco’s skills were put to the test on Friday. He walked out onto the ice to try his hand at Score-O, the second-intermission diversion where — on most nights — relatively anonymous fans try to shoot a puck through a small opening in a barrier blocking the goal mouth. Turco’s first and third attempts — taken with a goalie’s stick — sailed wide right of the net. His second shot went in after staff members lifted up the barrier when it became apparent that the puck wasn’t on line for the small opening. But even though his Score-O experience wasn’t as legendary as his playing career at Yost, Turco still enjoyed every minute of it.
“It was a lot of fun,” Turco said. “I wish I had my own stick, but it was great to get on the ice.
“It’s always special when you walk out onto that ice in front of these fans. It’s inspiring, because I have a lot of great memories.”
Turco — who spent part of the currently locked-out NHL season playing in Sweden — last visited Yost for a game during the team’s first-round CCHA playoff series against Nebraska-Omaha on March 12, 2004, when he was honored with a Marty Turco bobblehead doll giveaway. On Friday, Turco indicated he would be back for more visits in the future.
“I can’t get enough of this,” Turco said. “I don’t care how old I get. It’s always a trip to come back.”
Turco was accompanied at Friday’s game by classmates Bill Muckalt, Chris Fox and Gregg Malicke — a group representing four-fifths of the senior class during Michigan’s 1998 national title run. Before Saturday’s game, a collection of Michigan and Michigan State alumni players convened for an afternoon contest at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Turco and the Michigan side won, 7-6.
Back on Track: Michigan’s penalty killing unit continued its solid play over the weekend. Despite two ties in the series against the Spartans, the Wolverines shut down all six Michigan State power plays. Saturday’s contest marked the fourth straight game for Michigan in which the penalty kill was perfect.
The last time the Wolverines allowed a goal with a man-disadvantage came on Jan. 22 against then-No. 10 Ohio State. It was the ninth game in a row that Michigan allowed a power play goal. Since the third period of that game, the Wolverines have denied 14 straight extra-man opportunities.
Golden Goal: Senior captain Eric Nystrom’s second-period goal on Saturday was the 50th of his career. Nystrom has seven goals and 12 assists this season.