This past season, UND hockey had a highly touted goalie recruit come in. His name is Matej Tomek. The Slovakian netminder was supposed to challenge Cam Johnson for playing time and take over the starting role at some point. Most UND fans had seen very little of Johnson including his poor first start against Lake Superior State the year before. The third string goalie in the 2014-2015 season was Matt Hrynkiw. The former Humboldt Bronco had an outstanding junior hockey career but did not see any regular season action for his first two seasons.
Plans quickly changed for the Fighting Hawks. Tomek came into the season injured and was not fully healthy until about halfway into the season. By that point Cam Johnson had done enough to secure the starting role and Matt Hrynkiw had secured an impressive ten wins spelling Johnson as Cam recovered from his injury. During a late January game against Colorado College,Hrynkiw came in off the bench in the game and did enough to secure a tie against the Tigers where a loss would have had dramatic implications on UND’s postseason seeding.
So what does this all mean heading into next season? Well, to me it means that until take away, Matt Hrynkiw has to start out as the backup goalie. While many UND fans point to Tomek’s draft position (late third round,2015 NHL draft) as an indicator of his talent,Hrynkiw earned the position with his play last year.
Tomek will be the starting netminder for UND in time, but first has to earn the backup role. That decision will be left to the Fighting Hawks’ coaching staff.
If Matej has a strong offseason, we would encourage a competition for the backup job. We think Matt will get it because of his play,and contrasting style to Cam Johnson. Hrynkiw plays a very analytic game. Matt is studying to be a mechanical engineer and he plays like one in net. Whenever Hrynkiw played last season, he took good angles to stop 91 percent of the shots that came his way.
Matt will make a lot of saves look easy and tends to use his athleticism to make a lot of key saves from deep inside the blue paint. Cam on the other hand uses his 6’1″ frame to cut down the angle from the top of his crease. The contrasting style between the two goalies gives UND a chance in games where both need to play. Teams have to adjust for Matt’s style more so then they would for Tomek’s. From watching highlights of Matej’s time in the NAHL with Topeka, it becomes clear that Tomek plays a similar style of game similar to Johnson.
Finally, we believe that Matt Hrynkiw has set the bar for the attitude all UND hockey players need to have. The Humboldt Bronco alum earned every thing he gained this season, and off the ice is a great student as well. Hrynkiw’s hard work,attitude,and determination are things that should weigh in this decision.
Tomek will get a chance at the next level some day,and another year of learning for him under the tutelage of Matt Hrynkiw, goalie coach Karl Goehring, and the rest of the Fighting Hawks can only benefit him. Tomek will start the majority of games at some point, how soon is up to the UND coaching staff.
We expect Tomek to play a few games this season as the third string goalie,thus preparing him to take over the goaltending duties full time next season. Even Mike Richter Award winner Zane McIntyre split time with Clarke Saunders before taking over the job. We think Tomek and Hrynkiw will get an equal amount of games early in the season behind Cam Johnson.
Both Matej and Matt are outstanding goalies with bright futures, and both need to be ready at all times this season. Hrynkiw’s track record, and off the ice leadership will give him first chance to secure the backup job once again.
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