He’s got net

Redmond steps up in his 1st year

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech’s Angus Redmond has successfully filled the void in net left by Jamie Phillips.

CINCINNATI — Coming into the 2016-17 season, the biggest question facing the No. 19 Michigan Tech Huskies was going to be who was going to step up to the mantle and replace Jamie Phillips in goal. The Huskies were returning two goaltenders who played very little over the past two seasons and a new freshman who could be a part of the future.

The Huskies felt comfortable starting the season with senior Matt Wintjes and sophomore Devin Kero as a 1A and 1B situation while freshman Angus Redmond adjusted to the pacing of NCAA Division I hockey.

Redmond needed the time to get up to speed, and coach Mel Pearson and his staff felt that the two veterans had earned the right to start the season.

“We were fortunate that we had two goaltenders who were returning,” said Huskies assistant coach Joe Shawhan. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to see what they could do. They had worked very hard for that opportunity.”

While neither Wintjes nor Kero had done enough to keep the other from getting the chance to start, the other issue was how long it was going to take Redmond to get up to speed.

“I think those first couple of weeks, I was shy of the speed of the shots,” said Redmond. “I was kind of set back at the beginning with just the shock of how hard and fast it is.”

Redmond was given the chance to play a little over 12 minutes on Oct. 14 against Alabama-Huntsville. He surrendered two goals on just five shots and showed he was still not quite ready to go.

The pressure to get him ready to go would not have increased if either Wintjes or Kero had been able to step in and earn the job themselves. Instead, the Huskies opened the season 1-5-2 and were in danger of finding themselves too far out of the hunt before they even began to compete.

“After about a month or so, an opportunity presented itself,” said Shawhan. “In reality, it felt like we were rushing him still a little bit, getting him ready to play. When he did get in there, the timing was right.”

Needing to make a change of some sort, Pearson and his staff discussed ramping up Redmond’s development ahead of an Oct. 28 game at home against rival Northern Michigan.

Redmond credited Shawhan and assistant coach Gary Shuchuk with getting him ready by giving him a challenge in practice that he could work towards.

“The practices were huge,” said Redmond. “Working with Joe, I had to [focus] on not letting any pucks in the net. With Gary Shuchuk, we had a little competition going in practice based on how many I let in. That was huge to help get into that mental mindset and just stop everything in practice and it has really translated into the games.”

On that fateful Friday night, the Huskies also honored the last NCAA Championship in school history, putting more pressure on the shoulders of Redmond. 

He relished the opportunity.

Seeing just 19 shots in that game, Redmond earned his first career shutout as the team won just their second game of the season. He then won 11 of the next 14 games, earning his second career shutout in the opening game of the GLI against Michigan.

Pearson was extremely pleased with how quickly Redmond shored up the Huskies’ goaltending as the team’s defensive play improved.

“It wasn’t just Angus,” said Pearson. “It was that the whole team played better. Our defense started to play much better without the puck.”

January and February saw Redmond do some good things but also struggle somewhat. In eight times, he saw 20 or less shots, but only won three times in those eight contests.

Another issue cropped up in his game where a long shot from the blue line against Northern Michigan found its way past him — and he was involved in a very bizarre game in the WCHA playoff opener against Lake Superior State.

In a game where the Lakers pulled their starter, put him back in and ultimately pulled him again, Redmond started the game, gave up a third goal in the third period, was pulled and eventually went back into the net when Wintjes surrendered a goal on the first shot he faced.

“I knew it was a tough goal that I let in,” said Redmond. “I didn’t really know I was coming out until I reset and then the next thing I knew, I was coming off the ice… Then, the next thing I knew, I was going back in. I think that was huge too, just to myself that I need to refocus and learn how to flick the switch and get back into the game.”

For Redmond, that 6-4 win over the Lakers was a turning point for him as he was able to refocus himself from there. Since that game, he has only surrendered five goals over the next five games as the Huskies eliminated the Lakers, the Mavericks and the Bowling Green State Falcons to earn the Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA Playoff Champion.

“Those tough times really do help you throughout the season,” said Redmond. “Just mentally, you know that you can bounce back if you give up a tough goal or whatever. It’s just part of the game. I really just try to get back to my game.”

He did face some more adversity last Saturday against the Falcons. With the Huskies up 2-0 in the third period, he surrendered a wrist shot in the slot. He then misplayed a puck shortly after leading to the tying goal 24 seconds later.

Rather than sulk and limp to the end of the contest, he shut down everything the Falcons threw at him, giving the Huskies the time needed to win the game in second overtime.

“He was good,” said Pearson. “He was great. He did not give up a goal from that point forward. That’s what you need at that point. You can’t give up a goal, and he did a great job.”

No. 1 Denver Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery has been as impressed with what he has seen of Redmond’s play as Huskies’ fans have been. However, Shawhan says the proof will be in how he plays next year. No matter what happens next season, Redmond has gone a long way already towards being a strong longterm replacement for Phillips.