Jump to content
Hockey Wilderness
  • NCHC, NCAA leaders clash in Denver


    Today is probably one of the slowest days of Hunter Miska’s life. I’m guessing at this, of course, but let’s run this down.
    Hunter Miska is in his freshman year of college. He’s a D1 athlete and he’s playing for the top-ranked team in his conference and the NCAA. His predecessor, Kasimir Kaskisuo, was awesome (and probably a really cool guy too, I don’t know). Nevertheless, he’s playing at a level that many believe is unsustainable for such a young goalie.

    That’s the story of his season thus far, and he’s survived it all in spectacular fashion. On any normal week, he’s handling all that and holding opponents to 2.37 goals per game.

    But this isn’t any normal week. This week, he’s playing a road game against the #2 team in his conference. Conveniently, they’re also the #2 team in the NCAA. They’re also a team that’s profited immensely from solid goaltending and playing a strong second period.

    That team, the Denver Pioneers, has put in 17 goals in the middle frame this season (the Bulldogs have 20). What’s more telling, though, is how well the Pioneers have defended in the second period this year, allowing only 10 goals all year long.

    Where the Bulldogs are typically strongest, so too are the Pioneers. It’s a tough matchup of strength vs. strength. Both the Bulldogs and Pioneers outshoot their opponent at a 6:5 clip. They aren’t suffocating, death by paper cuts style teams. They’re overwhelming teams that convert more efficiently than their opponents.

    And for the Pioneers, they have their own version of Hunter Miska in Junior Tanner Jaillet. He’s riding a .923 sv% on the season, and has a 10-1-3 record on the year.

    Both teams are deep, and are willing and able to play an aggressive defensive system. It’s part of what makes each team work so well. They allow their forwards to churn low in the offensive zone, freeing up the points for outlet passes. The more time each unit spends low in the offensive zone, the more space they create elsewhere on the ice, which allows for some great puck movement on the blue line.

    Tonight and tomorrow feature matchups of college’s best teams, from top to bottom. Teams that have filled their rosters with good skaters and even better goaltenders.

    But with that kind of performance so far in the year comes a bigger set of expectations.

    So for Hunter Miska, the pressure’s never been higher. And yet, playing for a Bulldogs team that has trusted him in the crease so far this year, there’s no reason to believe he won’t keep performing at that level.

    As the Bulldogs head to Denver, there might be a pit in Miska’s stomach, or some nerves, or anxiety, or whatever it is. But those are the same nerves, anxiety, and pit that he’s dealt with since the beginning of his short collegiate career.

    We’ll see if he can dismiss those concerns the same as he’s done in 11 stellar starts so far.




    Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...