As we near the end of the USHL season, it has proven to be an odd year for USHL goalies, from start to end. Whereas past years have been marked with a fair amount of stability in the ranks, this year started with uncertainty, and for many teams, the task of finding the right goalies has been ongoing.
Coming out, Des Moines had a potent one-two combination in former Cornell goalie Troy Davenport and youngster Brian Foster, committed to UNH. Those two have performed as expected (save for a recent dip), and in the process, Davenport elected to return to Cornell next year to resume his college career.
An equal, but more unexpected, tandem also developed in Sioux Falls, where touted Minnesotan Alex Kangas came in to challenge incumbent John Murray. Behind a stingy defense, both put up spectacular numbers. Kangas's season earned him look from North Dakota before today selecting his homestate University of Minnesota. Murray got looks from several programs, including Northeastern, but to date has not made a college choice.
Cedar Rapids' Alex Stalock, already committed to Minnesota-Duluth, solidified his position atop the USHL goalie chart, carrying the load for the Roughriders, ahead of NHL draft pick Pat McGann, who likely will have to await the 2006-07 season to really showcase his skills.
Two teams were thrown into the lurch right at the end of the summer. Chicago had hoped to have Billy Sauer in net as the main man, but when the NY Rangers signed Michigan's Alvaro Montoya in August, Sauer was called upon by U.Michigan, leaving Shaun Williams as Chicago's lead goalie. Williams parlayed his opportunity into a scholarship at Union, even though his season came to an end with an injury in February.
Similarly thrown into chaos on the eve of the season was Tri-Cities, where the expected loan of U.Maine's Matt Lundin fell apart when Jimmy Howard signed with Detroit. Fortunately, it was able to secure Aaron Rock from the OHL, and while not college eligible, he's been strong.
The USHL also has featured a group of talented goalies who flashed potential, but did not find their niche with their original team. This includes Omaha's Eddie Neville, who has performed well during stints with Cedar Rapids (04) and Omaha (05), but then got traded mid-year to Green Bay, where he now mans the nets. Earlier today he committed to Bowling Green next year. He was traded to Green Bay for another college-bound goalie, Dan Rosen, who is headed to Brown. At Omaha he is backing up Mike Spillane, who established himself as Omaha's goalie and who will be at Vermont next year. Undoubtedly each aspires to become the next Dan Tormey, who had inconsistency in his games until his strong stretch run last year, which he parlayed into a starting assignment for Minnesota State.
Finally, there are some interesting stories of teams that thought they had solutions, only to find that the understudies won the jobs. Lincoln went into the season with Steve Jakiel, committed to Michigan, but little-known Bryan Hogan wrestled the position from him. Similarly, Sioux City selected former US National Teamer Billy Blase, but after he struggled early in the season, the Musketeers went with Jerry Kuhn, who has brought stability to the position. (Blase went on to Salmon Arm of the BCHL, where he secured an offer from Yale).