COLLEGE HOCKEY: UND netminder Thome going through similar experiences as goalie coach Hrynkiw
GRAND FORKS—If anyone can understand what University of North Dakota goalie Peter Thome, who led the Fighting Hawks to a 4-1 win over Miami on Friday night, Nov. 10, at Ralph Engelstad Arena, is going through right now it's goalie coach Matt Hrynkiw.
Two seasons ago, en route to UND's national championship, Hrynkiw was thrust into the spotlight when Cam Johnson went down with an injury in the team's third game of the season.
Hrynkiw made the next 11 starts and steadied the ship early in the season.
Now, he's seeing Thome do the same thing.
Thome, the reigning NCHC goalie of the week, turned in another impressive performance in holding off a talented RedHawks team that came out firing in the first period.
"He's really settled in and played his game well," Hrynkiw said. "He understands his keys better than a lot of goalies. He sticks to them very well. He has some unique things as a big guy with athleticism, but he knows what to do to have the best chance of success. Hopefully he can keep that going as go forward because it seems to be working."
Hrynkiw said no one should be surprised when a UND player steps up into an unsuspecting role.
"Every player on our roster was brought here with the intention of contributing at some point," Hrynkiw said. "You might not be slotted to play that game, but he was going to be a go-to guy at some point. It's a credit to his character and attitude."
After a successful weekend last weekend in surprise starts at Wisconsin, Thome didn't stumble at REA, a place that can challenge road and home goalies early in their careers.
"I think it's the same for any player when you come in here," Hrynkiw said. "You see the history and want to live up to the reputation of excellence. It's not easy to do, whether it's the big crowd or the opponent that gets up to play here. You saw Miami do that. The spotlight is on and you have to elevate."
One of the biggest benefits of Thome's early play is that it will allow UND to be patient with Johnson's injury.
"Cam is a special player and when he's available, he'll be ready to play," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's allowing our team to grow under another goaltender and giving him experience. It builds your team a little bit."
Thome played for the third time with a white helmet, as he awaits his painted mask to arrive in Grand Forks. The rookie, however, might have to think twice about changing his look.
"I was thinking about that after the game," Thome said. "What do I do? I'm going to have to wear the white one until I lose."