Nagelvoort Providing Answers In Michigan's Net
CHN Staff Report
For most players, getting to play college hockey for any team is an honor, but it is extra special when you get to play for the team you grew up cheering for.
That is what happened this year with Michigan freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort, who grew up listening to the Red Berenson Radio Show. The native of Holland, Mich., made his Wolverine debut Oct. 18 at New Hampshire, just four months after committing to the program.
Nagelvoort came on in relief just minutes into the third period after sophomore Steve Racine went down with an injury. But the freshman impressed that night in Durham, N.H., stopping 15 shots, including a penalty shot, to preserve a 1-1 tie.
"For his first college hockey experience to have to have to come in and then face a penalty shot, it's pretty good, and plus killing a penalty. I thought he did really well," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said after the game on October 18.
Nagelvoort had played well enough for Berenson to give him his first college start the next night. Nagelvoort made 22 saves and picked up his first career win, as the Wolverines won 3-2 in overtime.
From that point on the Wolverines' net was Nagelvoort's. He started 13 of the next 16 games for Michigan and has posted a 8-5-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .935 save percentage.
This includes Nagelvoort's first career shutout, vs. Niagara on Nov. 22, and winning Michigan's Big Ten Hockey opener vs. Ohio State on Nov. 29.
That is not to say it has been clear sailing for the Wolverines since Nagelvoort took over as the No. 1 goalie. After sweeping the Buckeyes, Michigan went almost two months without winning any games (0-4-1), including losses in both games of the Great Lakes Invitational for the first time since 2000. (Nagelvoort started the first game of the GLI, Racine the second.)
It was a streak of bad luck and bad timing for the Wolverines who only played four games in a month and a half from mid-December to late January.
But Berenson did not lose faith in Nagelvoort, and, really, couldn't afford to. Luckily, that faith seems to be paying off; Nagelvoot and the Wolverines had a big sweep over Michigan State last weekend.
"I think it was huge. We were worried about how effectively we could play having played so few games in recent weeks," Berenson said. "I thought Nagelvoort responded well. I won't say it was a toss-up but it could have been Racine playing. It's a tough decision, in recent week we have only played four games in six weeks so it's been tough to get a goalie."
Nagelvoort was happy to be given the chance to play, and get a victory in, his first game against Michigan's biggest rival.
"My first game ever against State, if I could go my whole career without losing to State that would be phenomenal." Nagelvoort said.
The first game of the series vs. the Spartans was played at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. A place that is also special to Nagelvoort, who grew up a Red Wings fan and had played there in tournaments as kid.
"Playing where the Red Wings play, knowing they were (just) here playing the Blackhawks, it's a lot of fun," Nagelvoort said.
The second game of the sweep of the Spartans gave the Wolverines their first victory at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing since March 2010. Berenson said after the game the victory was important for his team, especially the senior class who won their first game at Munn.
"They're pretty excited about it. They have a lot of respect for their opponent," Berenson said. "These games are big games, and now they're even bigger with the Big Ten Conference. Those are big points in the standings. Any way you want to cut it, that's a big weekend for Michigan against a good opponent."
The Wolverines are hoping the victories in Detroit and East Lansing are a sign of things to come rest of the season which features all Big Ten play and no more off weekends.