Saturday, December 5, 2015

White-Hot Goalie Garteig Scalps Yale

Quinnipiac's Garteig Conquers the Yale Whale
Quinnipiac and Yale's rivalry made the New York Times on Thursday, a story with quotes calling this NCAA border war the best sporting rivalry in Connecticut. Yale coach and relentless contrarian Keith Allain, however, downplayed the rivalry to the Paper of Record, saying that Yale recruits different players, doesn't offer scholarships and that the two programs are "very, very different." Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold countered. "I'm O.K. if Yale doesn't want to call it a rivalry." And then he spread that mantra to the players in his room. It seeped out in the post-game presser from supreme goaltender Michael Garteig who had just shut out Yale and is undefeated in 7 career starts against the Bulldogs. "It's always fun when we play them. Whether they say it's a rivalry or not, to us it is, so it's fun when we play here, and it's fun when we beat 'em."

Garteig had oodles of fun in Friday night's showdown, especially when Yale began their desperate push in the third period when they were down two goals, as he willed himself to keep Yale's plethora of Grade-A chances off the scoresheet. Allain, a former standout goalie for Yale, was not particularly impressed. "We were slow to shoot on a couple of occasions," said Allain in the press conference. "We put a couple right in his belly, but he did his job." It was up to Pecknold to put Garteig's audacious accomplishments in perspective. "He's really good, his numbers prove it. I thought he played great tonight, he battles and we kind of feed off that battle level." In terms of the inner workings of this rivalry, Yale's trump card has always been superior defense, let by their All-American goalie Alex Lyon. This statement game saw Lyon clearly outplayed by his Quinnipiac counterpart, who was fully aware of the star-power in the crease 200 feet away from him all night. "I can't score goals on him and he can't score on me, well I hope not, at least," said Garteig with a laugh. "You know he's a good goalie, obviously he's got the accolades to prove it. We got to do what we do to get goals on him and we did that tonight."

There was no doubt that this night belonged to Garteig: not only did he record his 3rd shutout in five games to leave rival Yale scrambling with a 4 point deficit in the standings, but he broke the Quinnipiac goaltending record with 60 career wins. No one better than Pecknold to put that accomplishment into perspective; the veteran coach has coached every star goalie in the program's history. "We've had some great goalies at Quinnipiac, I've been very fortunate. Jamie Holden, Justin Eddy, (Eric) Hartzell, J.C. Wells, we've had a lot of great goalies. For Gartzie to put that number up there, he didn't get a win his freshman year, so he did it in three years. I'm proud if him, he plays hard and I say it all the time, we feed off him. He's great in practice for us and it makes us better. He's a big part of this team, no question."

Meanwhile, eight miles south down Whitney Avenue, in rink that is 17 years older than the Quinnipiac varsity program, Yale's bedrock goaltender was beaten cleanly for three goals this night: Tim Clifton wrist shot stick side; Landon Smith snipe over the glove; Devon Toews wraparound glove side. Three is far too many to compete with Garteig while on his current six-game streak that features a 0.34 Goals Against Average. Quinnipiac captain Soren Jonzzon echoed Pecknold regarding the Bobcats' reliance on Garteig. He told New Haven Register beat writer Chip Malafronte, "When he's playing that well behind us, it gives us confidence to play more aggressively. We know if we missstep (and) they beat us, 97 out of 100 times he's going to bail us out." Jonzzon's math needs correcting. Over Garteig's last six games, he has bailed out his team 98.5 times out of 100, according to his save percentage. He has been the driving force in Quinnipiac's undefeated streak to start the season, which has historians scouring the record books. At this writing it stands at 14-0-2 and counting  Has Garteig ever been on a streak anything like this? "I won 42 games in a row in juniors," he said gleefully. "Keep er going." 

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