Entering the 2015-16 season, University of North Dakota sophomore goalie Cam Johnson had played a grand total of 43 minutes. With former All-American goalie Zane McIntyre ahead of him on the depth chart, playing time was at a premium. He didn’t get many reps between the pipes.
While Johnson didn’t play very much last season, the UND coaching staff have confidence in their goaltender.
Ironically, Johnson would get his second career start against Lake Superior State University, the same team that chased him from the net during his first career start last season.
During the season opener against the Lakers, Johnson struggled early, giving up two goals on the first four shots. After the second LSSU goal, head coach Brad Berry called a time out.
What did coach Berry tell his goal tender and team? We will never know, but the timeout appeared to work.
“I think some things have to remain unsaid,” Berry said. “It was professional. It was direct. It was something that not only caught Cam but the rest of our team. It was just a way to reset our team. I think the biggest thing is the leadership on our bench as far as what we did after that. I think we have to tip our cap to the leaders on our team.
“I admire what he did. It was a tough start – the disallowed goal – plus the two other goals. That’s not the start you want. “
Rough start aside, Johnson was nervous but he didn’t panic, he regrouped and moved forward.
“I was nervous out there at the start and it showed,” Johnson told the media after the game. “After that timeout, I kind of regrouped and told myself, to focus on the next save. I focused on the next save instead of the game as a whole. I broke it down into smaller segments: the next save, the next two minutes, the next penalty kill.”
Johnson’s Teammates weren’t worried by Rough Start
Rough start or not, Johnson’s teammates weren’t worried. They had confidence in their starting goaltender. Johnson settled down after the early goals and only let one more puck get past him the rest of the weekend. Johnson finished the weekend with a 1-0-1 record, a 1.44 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
“I am sure he would like to have those two back,” UND forward Luke Johnson said. “He’s a very competitive kid. In practice, he’s tough to score on. When he lets in a bad goal, he beats himself up a bit. Maybe sometimes a bit too much. He’s a competitive kid.”
Johnson continued, “After the first two goals that he let in, he stood on his head and gave us a chance to win. For the rest of the weekend, he was one of our best players, if not our best player. We’re going to need that the rest of the way.”
Fellow teammate, forward Coltyn Sanderson echoed Johnson’s sentiments.
“I think that the goaltending position is tough,” Sanderson said. “When you make mistakes as a player you can usually cover that up. With a goalie, you’re the last line of defense. So, it’s tough you really can’t disguise that.
“I think that Cam has put in his work over the last year. Working behind a guy like Zane, last year, I think he learned an awful lot about what the goaltending position takes. Obviously, as a player I don’t know what all that entails, but I think that Cam is a really skilled young guy. His performance all weekend was indicative of it.”
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.