October 21, 2013 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Garteig Taking Advantage of His Chance

Quinnipiac Hasn't Missed a Beat With New Goaltender

by Joshua Seguin/Staff Writer

Replacing an all-American goaltender who led your team to a Frozen Four is no easy task, but Quinnipiac has made the transition look easy so far.

Last season, Eric Hartrzell was arguably the best goaltender in the country. With his graduation, in has stepped Michael Garteig, a sophomore who played just 118 minutes last season, but whose presence has allowed his team to not miss a beat.

"We were pretty fortunate to have the best goalie in college hockey last year," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "But again, we are also fortunate to have a player of Garts' caliber waiting in the wings."

Those who know his history in juniors are not as surprised. It's an old adage, but winners win, and that is what Garteig has done throughout his career. While with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL, Garteig and his teammates rattled off 42 straight wins, which still stands as a North American junior hockey record. In his last two seasons of junior, he went 77-12-3.

"It was a good year," said Garteig. "It was my last crack in the league. I actually deferred my 19-year old year at Quinnipiac to stay. I played for a team that was stacked top to bottom with draft picks. When hockey is that much fun, it is easy to go to the rink and so easy to work as hard as we were."

It is next to impossible to teach winning but it is an important skill. And confidence makes all the difference for a goalie, something Garteig seems to have plenty of.

Having to wait a year for a shot at playing time is not the easiest thing for a goaltender, or any hockey player, to do. Garteig took it in stride and got to learn from one of the best. It makes him more appreciative of the opportunities that have been afforded to him.

"Obviously last year I would have liked to play a little more," Garteig said. "I felt I was capable, but when you are behind a a good goalie, it's not an easy thing. But I felt like I dealt with it well. I was a sponge last year and took it in.

"It was a big help to sit behind Hartzy; last year was great. We both get along very well and we got to work out a bit in the summer together. I got to learn a lot from him; he was a great goaltender."

Pecknold appreciates what Garteig has done.

"He had a tough year last year," said Pecknold. "He was good enough to play but he really didn't get much of a chance to play. I am excited for him and happy for him because he has worked hard. His work ethic has been outstanding in these 13 or 14 months he has been with us."

Over a weekend home-and-home against fellow 2013 Frozen Four participant, Massachusetts-Lowell, Greteig and his teammates looked comfortable in taking down one of the best teams in the country in a two-game sweep. Lowell was the preseason No. 1 in the minds of many, while Quinnipiac was expected to take a step back.

"I felt they had some quality chances but my defense does a great job," said Garteig after Friday night's 3-1 win in Lowell. "Our D is great but young. They are skilled but young and I credit them."

Transitioning between goaltenders can sometimes throw a team off, but that has not materialized. Garteig may not have seen many testers on Friday but he stopped the ones he needed to. When he was asked to make a crucial stop in a big moment, he did so. When a team knows its goaltender will make the necessary stops, it gains confidence.

"It has been an easy transition," said QU forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas. "Gart got to watch Hartzy last year, he got familiar with the players and the system. He has a lot of confidence and got to be a part of great teams. We have a lot of confidence in him and it's nothing to worry about really. He hasn't missed a beat and has a great attitude."

The Bobcats graduated four on defense and played with only two defensemen that saw time last season. You wouldn't know it so far.

With all the confidence in its goaltender, a young Quinnipiac defense has turned into a good one, yet again. It has seemingly transitioned from the Eric Hartzell era to the Michael Garteig era quickly. QU has rattled off three straight wins, after an opening night loss in Anchorage Alaska. In those three wins it has allowed just three goals.

The Bobcats look like they have picked up right where they left off late last season.

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