Schierhorn's Improvement Helping Minnesota's Good Start
by Rachel Greenstein/CHN Reporter
MINNEAPOLIS Although the season is still in its early stages, Minnesota’s Eric Schierhorn has already stood out thanks to a strong start. Early in his junior year, Schierhorn already has 86 consecutive starts under his belt (as of Friday night), breaking a 51-year old school record.
Schierhorn was unaware the record-breaking moment was coming up. He's just going about his business — the business of getting Minnesota another Big Ten title and, hopefully, a longer NCAA run than he's been through in his first two seasons. In fact, Minnesota missed the NCAAs entirely during Schierhorn's freshman year, then won 23 games and earned a spot last year.
Over last weekend's series against Michigan State, Schierhorn notched his 50th win. Before the regular season even began Schierhorn was put on the watch list for the Mike Richter Award, a prestigious annual award honoring the most outstanding goaltender.
Despite both the pressure and praise, Schierhorn remains level-headed and humble. This past summer, Schierhorn worked extensively with goalie coaches, something he’s never done much of in the past.
Despite there being a new goalie coach to work with, Schierhorn feels comfortable and confident, seeing improvement in his body position and feeling more in control in his routine. Aside from his improvements, Schierhorn feels he still has areas he needs to work on, including staying in one place and having better rebound control.
So far that has paid off. After putting up save percentages of .906 in his first two seasons, Schierhorn has hovered around .930, even with allowing five goals to Michigan in Friday night's loss.
Though the records show superb play on Schierhorn’s part, he does not take all the credit, nor accept all the praise: the goaltender is self-assured behind both his defensemen from previous years and the newcomers.
“I have a lot of confidence in [Tyler] Nanne, [Nate] Knoepke, and [Sam] Rossini. They all look good in practice and there’s good communication,” Schierhorn said.
In terms of making Schierhorn’s job easier, Minnesota coach Don Lucia is hoping to see more shot blocking from both defensemen and forwards. Defenseman Steve Johnson also hopes to see more speed from all forwards, particularly centers, when recovering and falling back in order to help with defensive responsibilities.
However, alternate captain and sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren can’t say enough about Schierhorn’s ability to be the last line of defense.
“[Schierhorn] has been just unbelievable throughout the whole year and that’s big for us,” Lindgren said. “We’ve had some not-so-great games but he’s been back there just rock solid every night. It’s big for us and we know he’s going to keep it going.”
Lucia remains confident in Schierhorn and continues to start him. Since coming back to start the season, Schierhorn is content with his current gameplay and continues to work to improve while adding more consecutive starts, perhaps on his way to another Minnesota record — or championship.