DULUTH, Minn. — Matti Kaltiainen has not yet become a household name in college hockey, but if he continues to have performances like he did Saturday night, everybody will know his name.
The freshman netminder stopped 50 of 51 Minnesota-Duluth (7-12-1) shots as his No. 13 Boston College Eagles (10-6-2) captured the Silverado Shootout championship with a 5-1 victory over the host school. In addition, Kaltiainen was honored as the player of the championship game, the tournament MVP, and was named to the all-tournament team.
The 50 saves tied a record first set by Marc Kielkucki of Air Force for the most in tournament history.
Kaltiainen said luck played a big part in some of his saves.
“There were a couple of very hard shots and I got lucky,” said the Espoo, Finland, native. “Some pucks that hit me I didn’t see at all.”
Kaltiainen was especially tested in the second period, after he managed to get some help from his teammates, who spotted him a three-goal lead going into the first intermission.
Overall, five different players scored for the Eagles despite the absence of Ben Eaves, who went into the weekend as the team’s leading scorer, but is now in Europe playing for Team USA in the World Junior championships.
BC first got on the board at the 4:20 mark thanks to what could be interpreted as holiday generosity by the Bulldogs. UMD defenseman Mark Carlson coughed up the puck in his own end as he attempted to clear the zone. Ryan Shannon took control and promptly skated in and beat Rob Anderson with a backhander for his fifth goal of the year.
BC would take advantage of another “gift” by Carlson to make it 2-0 at the halfway point of the opening period. Ales Dolinar intercepted Carlson’ s clearing pass at the Duluth blue line, skated into the slot and scored his fifth goal of the year with a wrist shot to Anderson’s stick side.
And the holiday cheer wouldn’t stop there for the Eagles. It became 3-0 when J.D. Forrest scored his fifth goal with a shot between the faceoff circles with just over two minutes left before intermission.
According to UMD defenseman Andy Reierson, other than the giveaways, the first period went pretty well for the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t play that bad, actually, in the first period,” Reierson said. “We just made a couple of stupid mistakes and they capitalized — you can’t do that against a good team.”
After the third goal UMD coach Scott Sandelin decided to pull Anderson in favor of backup goaltender Adam Coole. Yet Coole wouldn’t see a lot of pucks in the second period.
The Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders, outshooting BC 28-6 during the middle 20:00.
However, only one got past Kaltiainen. That happened to be Reierson, whose wrist-shot goal occurred as the Bulldogs were enjoying a 5-on-3 power play that included a five-minute major penalty against Brett Peterson for a high-sticking call in which he broke his stick. Reierson’s goal came after a wave of chances for UMD. He finally found a seam from the slot after being set up by Judd Medak and Junior Lessard.
The shots kept coming at Kaltiainen after that, but the freshman shined as he stopped pucks with his glove, on his back and a myriad of other ways that seemed to defy the odds.
“Clearly, our goaltender won us the hockey game,” said Eagles coach Jerry York, who was going against UMD for the first time since the 1984 NCAA title game, when he coached Bowling Green to a dramatic 5-4, four-overtime victory over the Bulldogs.
“Besides the [volume], some of those were incredible saves.”
Down 3-1, UMD continued pressure into the third period and at about the seven-minute mark saw its best opportunity to narrow the gap vanish thanks to Kaltiainen’s heroics. Tom Nelson was camped out at the right post when he was fed a perfect pass from the left faceoff circle, but Kaltiainen stretched out his left leg just in time to deny Nelson an easy tap-in goal.
Reierson said it can be frustrating when so many opportunities are thwarted.
“Obviously, you’re getting that many shots and the goalie is making some pretty good saves, it gets to you a little bit,” said Reierson. “But we kept going and kept throwing pucks at the net, and he kept answering the bell.”
And others on the BC squad also answered. In the middle of UMD’s attempt to come back, the Eagles scored a demoralizing shorthanded goal midway through the final period to make it 4-1. After taking a feed from Jeff Giuliano, Tony Voce skated in and sent a shot from between the faceoff circles that just slipped underneath Adam Coole’s pads for his 16th goal of the season.
Voce scored two goals and two assists on the weekend, allowing him to take over the team’s scoring lead, with 29 points, and also earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
BC would further solidify the victory with an empty-net goal by Ryan Murphy with just under three minutes to play.
The win gives BC four tournament championships for the year 2001. It started with the Beanpot last February, continued with the Hockey East championship in March, and reached its pinnacle in April when the Eagles won their first NCAA title since 1949.
However, it continues a drought for UMD, which has yet to earn a championship in its holiday tournament since it debuted in January 1999.
The all-tournament team, voted by the media, also included BC’s Ned Havern, Evan Cheverie of Miami, and Yale’s Jeff Dwyer.