Page 6 -The Michigan Daily- Sports Monday - November 9, 1992
Bell tolls for Laker netminders
Lake State's goalkeeping tradition catalyzes NCAA success
l e i e
Hockey games won
between the pipes
by Brett Forrest
Daily Hockey Writer
SAULT STE. MARIE - We have all heard the clich6s before. "Our
goalie played great for us tonight ... He was unconscious ... He kept us
in the game ... He was standing on his head out there ... Our goalie won
the game for us tonight."
Sure, one can gloss over these comments as easily as "We're work-
ing hard in the corners ... we're taking it one game at a time." However,
it cannot be said more plainly or more importantly - goaltending wins
and loses games.
This maxim was never truer than in this weekend's series between
Michigan and Lake Superior. Friday, Michigan goalie Steve Shields
had 43 saves on 45 shots as the Wolverines rolled to a 5-2 victory.
Saturday, Lake State netminder Blaine Lacher had 37 saves on 38
shots, leading the Lakers to a 6-1 win.
The player who covers the six-by-four foot frame is the most impor-
tant man on the team. Those in deference to this opinion need only take
a glance at the most successful NCAA teams in recent history. Look at
the names of Bob Essensa, Bruce Hoffort, Chuckie Hughes and Darrin
Madeley, then look at the championship rings on their fingers. Look
into the hearts of their teammates, who knew when their teams went
down the stretch, they needed a big-money goaltender - lucky for
them they had one.
For both games this weekend, the team that had more shots lost.
Friday, the Lakers outshot Michigan, 45-33. Saturday, Michigan held
the advantage, 38-24. How is this paradox explained? Goaltending.
"The difference in our game was the goalie," Michigan coach Red
Berenson said. "(Shields) made save after save on shots that were hit-
ting him that he probably couldn't even see."
Friday, Shields was so hot he held the glow of a blue flame. It could
have been his best game performing in such a tight, important contest.
His vision was great, he played the angles superbly and he was kicking
out rubber like the Michelin Man trying to reach his quota.
"That's the best I've ever seen Steve Shields play," Laker coach Jeff
At times, one can attribute a goaltender's performance to the strong
defense in front of him - few shots, fewer attempts to score. Friday
was not one of those nights. Then again, many goalies relish having to
face a high number of shots. They can get into a groove, keep active
and showcase their skills.
"The time I have the most trouble is when I'm only getting 15 to 20
shots," Shields said. "When you're getting shots like that (45 shots),
you're into the game. You're always busy, so time goes by fast. I'm
drained now but when I was out there it probably was the most fun I've
had in a game this year."~
Saturday, it was Lacher's turn to shine. Michigan peppered the
sophomore from Medicine Hat, Alberta., with 18 shots in the first pe-
riod. He kept slow-starting Lake Superior in the game early, stopping
all 18 attempts and holding the Wolverine power play to a doughnut de-
spite three first-period chances.
Lacher was just about flawless as he went on to stop all but one shot.
After the game he concurred with Shields.
"Getting all those shots helps to keep you in the game, even though
it can be a double-edged sword," he said. "I like 25-30 shots a night. 38
might have been a bit too much."
Lacher was the difference in the weekend. Michigan played its best
two periods of the season Friday during the second and third periods.
Saturday, the team picked up where it left off the night before. Lacher
dame up big, though, and gave the Lakers time to catch their breath. If
he had not been such a wall in the second game, it would have been an
easy Wolverine sweep.
"This is the first time we've seen a real good goalie factor into the
game," Berenson understated.
"(Lacher) did an outstanding job," Jackson said. "He played confi-
dently. He looked like the goalie we recruited."
In the Michigan lockerroom, there was a feeling of knowing there is
little a team can do when pitted against a hot goalie.
"(Lacher) played well," junior Brian Wiseman admitted. "The puck
wasn't bouncing our way. But I have to give him credit - he made the
Michigan's power play moved the puck well for most of the evening
but converted only one of 10 chances. Lacher frustrated power play
point man Pat Neaton all night.
"We had a lot of good chances," Neaton said. "We just couldn't
come up with the goals, we couldn't convert. (Lacher) was hot. It just
comes down to not burying our chances."
Enough cannot be said about it. Too much emphasis cannot be
placed upon it. Too important a role it cannot play on a team.
Goaltending. Goaltending. Goaltending.
If a goalie "sieves it," his team will not win. It is a very simple equa-
tion. Intensity from the goal crease invariably will radiate to the rest of
A high quality goaltender can make a modest team great, while a
See BLUE LINES, Page 8
Hi/Lo " Funk " Cardio Pump " Fatbumer " interval Training " Butts Gutts and Biceps
by Andy Stabile
Daily Hockey Writer
SAULT STE. MARIE - After
every home victory, the Lake
Superior State University Lakers run
outside and ring the Hoholik Victory
Bell, which stands at the entrance to
the Norris Center Arena. Due to
damage sustained from the repetitive
ringing, the bell needed to be re-
placed this season. Laker coach Jeff
Jackson took it upon himself to find
a new bell before the season began
so that the Laker tradition could be
Now with the season well under-
way, Jackson is in the midst of re-
placing another mainstay at Lake
Superior State. He is searching for
the next dominant Laker goaltender.
Lake Superior State was un-
known when the Lakers won their
first NCAA national championship
in the 1987-88 season. Last season,
no longer an unknown, but a college
hockey perennial favorite, the
Lakers again won the national title.
In the five years between the
raising of the two title banners in the
Norris Center, a transition took place
in the Laker program. The title
teams featured different players,
different playing styles and even
different head coaches. But one facet
of the Laker game lay at the heart of
each title: goaltending.
Bruce Hoffort roamed the Laker
crease for that first title. When he
departed for the Philadelphia Flyers
organization, the void he left behind
was filled by Darrin Madeley. After
three years in Sault Ste. Marie,
Madeley now plays with the
expansion Ottawa Senators.
How good were these two play-
ers? Hoffort played only two sea-
sons, but posted six shutouts.
Madeley once posted a 24-game un-
beaten streak, during which the
Lakers went 21-0-3. The two own
nearly every goaltending record at
Lake State, but the championship
ring both players wear is the hall-
mark of their success.
There are three goalies in the cur-
rent Laker camp: sophomore Blaine
Lacher, and rookies Adam
Thompson and Paul Sass. The search
is on for Jackson, but so far there is
no clear answer.
Lacher is the heir apparent, but
has struggled through most of his
starts with Lake Superior. However,
he had a stellar performance this
weekend against Michigan when he
allowed only one goal on 38 shots,
leading the Lakers to a 6-1 victory.
Thompson had played well in his
games until facing the Wolverines
Friday night, when he was shelled
for five goals, including one long
slapshot from outside his own zone.
Paul Sass may be the most highly
touted of the trio, but has yet to see
any game action.
Jackson feels each goalie brings a
different dimension to the team.
"Blaine Lacher is a big kid. Once
he gains some confidence and does a
good job for us at gaining some con-
sistency, then he can be a top
Lacher himself is hesitant to draw
any comparisons between himself
and the Laker goalies of the past.
"I don't care if I even get to be as
great as those guys," Lacher says. "I
just want to improve consistently so
I can play night after night."
In Sass, Jackson sees the antithe-
sis to Lacher - a smaller, quicker
netminder who is more agile around
the net. However, Jackson compares
Thompson to a different pair of
"He is the guy that is most com-
parable to Hoffort and Madeley as
far as style and technique goes."
Although he was mentioned in
the same breath with those two
Laker legends, Thompson could not
perform like them Friday against the
Wolverines. While the team strug-
gles to find a consistent goalie,
Jackson says he is content to shuffle
"Just like the first year Darrin
Madeley was here, just like the first
year Bruce Hoffort was here, we ro-
tated two or three guys in the first
half of the season," Jackson says of
his goaltending rotation. "We have
to see what these three guys can do."
And also like the early years of
Hoffort and Madeley, the current trio
is struggling. Those near the Laker
squad remember that both Hobey
Baker Award finalists took their
lumps at first. Jackson asked Laker
radio color man and ex-Laker goalie
Joe Shawhan to work out with
'You have to make
sure the freshmen get
a taste of what it is
like on the road and
get a chance to play
each opponent at least
one time. That's my
- Jeff Jackson
Madeley when he first arrived in
Sault Ste. Marie.
"I went on the ice with him and I
told Jeff, 'I think you missed the
boat on this guy,"' Shawhan said.
"Look at him now."
Laker radio play-by-play an-
nouncer Bill Crawford recalls seeing
similar holes in Hoffort's game.
"Joey and I used to criticize him
because he was always moving one
way and the puck was going the
other. It takes a little while for these
guys to pick up on stuff like that."
Does all this mean that these
players have the potential to domi-
nate a game like their predecessors?
Jackson feels they do.
"I think all three of them could
end up being the number one goalie.
Right now we just don't know."
Shawhan agrees. He knows that
experience and confidence are im-
portant to any goalie's success but
feels that Jeff Jackson's system;is
the key to producing the quality of
"The only thing," he says,
"separating these goaltenders fromn
the last few that have come throu h+
here and have done real well is time
in the net - a little experience.
"The drills that the Lakers do -
the type of practices they run - thy$
are conducive to developing godl
tenders. It's just a matter of time.'" ,
So what is that system? Ma#x4
there is none, but Jackson, a goic
in his playing days, remains vef
deliberate with the physical gi
mental treatment of his goaltender .
"You have to make sure tbt
freshmen get a taste of what it is li c
on the road and get a chance to plan
each opponent at least one time anq
get them the proper experience in the
first half of the year. That's my goal
"I'm hoping we can get into
some kind of rotation until thes
guys get some confidence in theim
game, but it takes time. It's going tq
be four to six weeks before we're req
ally going to know who can'do
And nothing says he will know
any more then. Until one or more o
these players plays consistently well
all this is speculation.
But it is the kind of speculatlori
that has been heard around the
Norris Center before.
Remember the names of Thomp
son, Sass, and Lacher. Currently,al
of them are unproven. At least on$
of them, Jackson hopes, wild
someday be the impenetrable forc
that keeps the Lakers ringing the
Lake Superior State goalie Blaine Lacher smothers a Michigan shot. The teams splitthe weekend series.
Continued from page 1
us, but ... it certainly gave our
team a little life."
Skating with momentum after
Hogan's goal, Michigan's Ryan
Sittler and Mike Knuble also
netted goals while Shields turned
away each of the 17 shots he saw
in that second period.
"He made save after save on
shots that were hitting him that he
probably couldn't even see,"
"We kind of cane out (from
the first intermission) with our
backs against the wall," junior
Mike Stone said. "It was 1-0 and
then our whole second period was
pretty much the turning point of
Stone and Lake Superior's-
Brian Rolston each tallied goals in
the third, but Shields turned away
17 more shots in the last stanza to
seal the Michigan victory.
"I'm drained now," Shields
said after the game, "but while I
was out there it was probably the
most fun I've had all year."
It would not be so fun for
Shields and the Wolverines
Saturday night, as the Lakers came
out playing what their coach Jeff
Jackson would later call "old-style
Lake Superior drew back and
played more of the clutch-and-
grab style of defensive hockey
which was their forte during their
NCAA Championship years of
1988 and 1992. The other
characteristic of those Laker teams
also bore its head Saturday:
"It was basically a reversal of
roles from (Friday) night's game."
Jackson gave the goaltending
nod to Lacher, who responded
with the best performance of his
"No doubt about it," Lacher
said. "That was my best game
since I was in juniors."
The Wolverines beat Lacher
only once - that on a power-play
shot from the point by Pat Neaton
with Michigan losing, 4-0, in the
second period. Michigan had
seven other opportunities with the
man advantage, including two full
minutes of 5-on-3, but couldn't
beat Lacher. Meanwhile, Lake
Superior took advantage of its
opportunities, scoring five goals
on 10 power plays.
"1 thought we outplayed them,
except on the power play,"
Berenson said. "Our power play
played really well; the puck just
didn't go in for us.
"There were two good games
this weekend, and if we play well
we have a chance to win games.
The score was no indication
tonight. Our players played well
and they don't have to hang their
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