Garteig answers the call


Carolyn Fales

Photo courtesy: Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network

Union goaltender Colin Stevens came into this weekend with a national championship under his belt and a strong offensive unit in front of him. Coming off a stellar performance against Cornell to advance to the ECAC quarterfinals, he was looking both confident and in control.

But it was Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig who would come away with the 2-1 series win and would prove to be the stronger goaltender overall in three hard fought hockey games.

“I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said after Game 3. “He saved us.”

Starting with Game 1 of the series, Garteig showed incredible stamina through 106 minutes of hockey. Union had several good opportunities from top scorers Mike Vecchione and Daniel Ciampini through each period of overtime play, but Garteig held strong.

One play in particular stood out late in double-OT. Ciampini had control of the puck on a two on one and dished it to Max Novak who made an impressive shot. Gartieg made the tough save to keep his team alive.

Garteig had struggled early on in the season, his save percentage was low and he wasn’t looking as strong as he had in his sophomore year campaign. His play picked up as the season went on.

With a save percentage of .919 overall it was often the defense in front of him that got the credit for blocked shots and low goal totals against him. However in Game 2 of this series it was the defensemen that missed blocks on the two goals that got past him.

Garteig didn’t place the blame on the defensemen though; he instead looked towards himself to step it up. “I just knew I had to be better,” he said. Before the game he talked to his dad about how he thought Stevens had outplayed him in the first two match ups. Garteig was aware he had to stay focused, “we knew it was a do or die situation,” he said.

It was in Game 3 that Garteig really shined. He held the Dutchmen to just one goal through two periods of play.

Just a minute after Matt Wilkins netted a goal for Union, Nick Cruise took a beautiful shot in an attempt to tie the game up. Garteig made a strong glove save and again kept his team alive, and more importantly, prevented a shift in momentum for the Dutchmen.

In the third period Union came out of the locker room hungry. The Dutchmen were clearly in control and forced Quinnipiac to play the majority of the period in its own zone on defense.

“There’s no doubt that if he [Garteig] didn’t play the way he did, that [it would have been] a completely different game,” teammate Soren Jonzzon said. “We had some huge break downs… he came up huge for us.”

The Bobcats only got three shots off on Stevens in 20 minutes. On the other end Garteig’s net looked like open season as the Dutchmen fired eleven shots on goal looking to tie the game up. Garteig made save after save to give the Bobcats their final win.

“It’s fun to be a goalie in these situations,” he said with a smile.

Garteig will take the net for the Bobcats in Lake Placid for the ECAC semifinal match up against Harvard.