Filling gaps: Transfer goaltender Jurusik ready to step in quickly for Huskies
HOUGHTON — With the departure of transfer goaltender Patrick Munson from the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey program after just one season, the void left behind needed to be filled. Enter junior transfer Matthew Jurusik, who last played college hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Jurusik joins redshirt senior Devin Kero and sophomore Robbie Beydoun in the Huskies’ net with the goal of helping the Huskies get back to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.
After starting 33 games as a freshman and 17 more as a sophomore, Jurusik left Madison, Wisconsin, and headed to the United States Hockey League (USHL), where he posted a 2.89 goals against average in 49 games last season with the Sioux City Musketeers.
At 6-foot-2, Jurusik should remind Huskies’ fans of Pheonix Copley and Jamie Phillips, goaltenders who focus on their positioning first, and then their ability to move.
“I’d say that I’m more of an athletic goaltender,” he said. “I try to be as positionally sound as possible, but I also like to break technique (by) using my athleticism, flexibility (and) reactions to hopefully make the saves that other guys can’t.”
The La Grange, Illinois, likes the challenge of being the man between the pipes who is counted on to make key saves late in contests.
“I hope to bring stability and consistency in (the) net,” said Jurusik. “I’ve played on some teams where if we’re going to win, it’s going to be a tight game in overtime or a shootout. I know how to keep the team games and hopefully pulling out a couple more wins.”
In Jurusik’s mind, every good team is anchored by a solid goaltender, and that’s what he feels he will bring to Houghton.
“I just want to bring a determined focus to the team,” he said. “When a team has a good goalie, everything seems to go (well). I just want to bring some stability.”
Jurusik’s journey to Michigan Tech started with an injury at Wisconsin that created space for another netminder to step in. Rather than sit on the bench and perhaps not finding playing time with the Badgers, he decided that a change of scenery would do him some good.
“I want to be a starter,” Jurusik said. “At my old school, I ran into some injury problems and lost my starting job, so that’s why I looked to transfer. I’m looking to play. I want to be the guy in the net every night (because) I feel like that’s the mindset every goalie should have.”
Jurusik spent last season with the Musketeers focusing on what made him a successful goaltender before heading to Madison. He feels that experience taught him how to continue working on his game.
“(By) just playing the best hockey I can, (I hope to help),” he said. “That’s when you give the team the best opportunity to win. I just want to push myself every day to get better and hopefully, the team gets better as well.”
All of the 11 new Huskies are coming from junior-level gameplay, but Jurusik is unique. He has two years of experience playing at the NCAA Division I level following a successful season with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League, where he posted a 1.57 goals against average in 40 games.
“I (have) already played two seasons of college hockey, so I already know the pace and the gameplay that’s associated with (it),” said Jurusik. “(I have), maybe, a better understanding of what to expect (by) being able to hop in right away and not have to take a break. I’m used to the pace. I know what I’m (doing) getting in there (and have already) played a bunch of WCHA teams. I have a little more experience that will help me right off the bat and hopefully carry me into a good season.”
Coming from a winning pedigree with the Jets, Jurusik hopes to add to the recent success of the Huskies.
“I want to make as much noise in the tournament as possible,” he said. “If we win a WCHA championship, I think from there it’s just winning four to five games. Then hopefully (we can) have a national championship at the end of the season.”
The Musketeers struggled last season as a team and did not make the USHL playoffs, but Jurusik felt the experience was valuable all the same.
“Last season in the USHL, we struggled a bit and didn’t make the playoffs,” he said, “but it gave me the experience of playing on a team where I needed to be relied on more heavily to keep the team in games. I just want to bring all (of) the gameplay experience that I have and help the team that we’ve got here (by) making as long as a run as possible.”
With Kero’s status in question, and with the lack of the Huskies’ ability to find a consistent starter last season, there was a possibility that if Jurusik decided to come to Houghton, he could play. That was enough to convince the junior that Michigan Tech was a good fit.
“Midway through the season last year, I was talking to a couple of schools,” said Juruski. “Tech (offered) the opportunity to play right away. With the competitive team that they already have, I feel like I could be a huge piece to the puzzle to hopefully make a deeper run next year.”
When asked if there is a goaltender at the NHL level that Jurusik models his game after, he was quick to name the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky was recently chosen as the best current goaltender by NHL Network.
“I typically enjoy watching the guys that are closer to my size and I like the guys that have really sound, technical games. (I like) the guys that use their athleticism to their advantage,” said Jurusik. “I try to watch as much hockey as possible. Growing up, I always watched junior highlights, but Sergei Bobrovsky was my main inspiration.”