Friday, 7 December 2018

Year Of The Goalie Goal

It's pretty remarkable that we've already seen goaltenders score goals in the AHL and the WHL this year. Goalie goals are one of those rare feats that make highlight reels across North America due to how infrequently they happen. However, it seems that the 2018-19 season is one where the goalies are starting to add some offensive flair to their jobs of being the ultimate defensive player. While we wait for the NHL to catch up to these lower levels of hockey, would you believe we have another league where a goalie scored tonight?

Without any further delay, here is Atte Tolvanen, goaltender for the Northern Michigan University Wildcats of the NCAA, scoring his first goal on North American soil!
Trailing 4-2 in the game, the Michigan Tech Huskies pulled netminder Matt Jurusik as they looked to continued their perfect record against WCHA opponents. I don't think they were expecting an empty-net goal scored by Tolvanen as Atte recorded the first goal in Northern Michigan program history when he launched the puck down the ice into the yawning cage! Atte's goal also made him the 11th NCAA goaltender to record a goal in game as he joins the following list:
  • Jim Tortorella, Maine, vs Vasby (SWE) - Dec 28, 1980.
  • Damian Rhodes, MTU vs Colorado College - Jan 21, '89.
  • Andrew Allen, Vermont, vs Harvard - Jan 3, 1998.
  • Chad Alban, Michigan State, vs Ferris State - Feb 28, 1998.*
  • Mike Mantua, Western Michigan, vs Ferris State - Nov 16, '02.*
  • Jonathan Quick, Massachusetts, vs Merrimack - Jan 6, 2007.
  • Kyle Richter, Harvard, vs Yale - Feb 22, 2008.
  • Mitch Gillam, Cornell, vs Niagara - Nov 26, 2013.*
  • Michael Garteig, Quinnipiac, vs Union - Dec 7, 2013.
  • Evan Weninger, Omaha, vs Miami-Ohio - Jan 13, 2018.
  • Atte Tolvanen, NMU, vs Michigan Tech - Dec 7, 2018.*
  • * denotes goalies who shot the puck.
If that Tolvanen name sounds familiar, it's because Atte's older brother, Eeli, is a member of the Nashville Predators! While Eeli has one NHL goal, 21 AHL goals, 19 KHL goals, and 101 USHL goals, Atte can now say he leads the Tolvanen family in goals scored in the NCAA!

Perhaps, of the 11 netminders above, the most amazing story comes from Mitch Gillam. The Cornell netminder was a freshman in 2013-14, and he made his debut on November 26, 2013 against Niagara - note the date. With Cornell leading 3-2 late in the game, Gillam gloved a shot from Niagara's Matt Chartrain, dropped it to the ice in front of him, and fired the puck down the ice for the insurance marker and first NCAA goal in a 4-2 victory where he also made 24 saves for his first NCAA victory! The ironic part? The Niagara game would be his only start of the season, and just one of two appearances all season in the Cornell net!

While Atte can't claim that same fame - he's 7-9-0 this season - he did snap Michigan Tech's perfection against the WCHA in the 5-3 victory. Yes, he allowed a late power-play goal so this wasn't as perfect as it could have been, but for a guy who is supposed to be stopping pucks instead of shooting them into the net, that's a solid night of work!

In all seriousness, it's pretty cool seeing all these goalie goals this season across a number of leagues. The only question that remains is who in the NHL will add their name to the list?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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