Denfeld News

Jan. 14, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Puck hunter stops all but two
By Rick Weegman

Goalie Matt Messina didn’t lose a game his junior season at Duluth Marshall, yet didn’t start a game once the Hilltoppers reached the Minnesota Class A high school boys hockey state tournament.

He doesn’t need to worry about that now as a senior at Duluth Denfeld.

Despite a 2-0 loss to Duluth East on Tuesday night at the Heritage Sports Center, Messina showed why he’s the No. 1 netminder with the Hunters. He stopped 41 shots, including all 21 he faced in the second period, to keep Denfeld (10-5) competitive against a team it lost to by 15 goals combined the past three years.

Julius Tamasy and Brent Olson scored in the third period to break the scoreless tie and Matt Cooper stopped 15 shots to record his sixth shutout for the eighth-ranked Greyhounds (10-2-1).

“What you saw tonight was our defensemen moving guys around out there so [Messina] could see the puck,” Denfeld coach Kevin Smalley said. “Normally, he’s a terrific goaltender when he can see the puck. Overall, I thought our defensemen did a great job.”

Messina split time with Willie Paul last season at Marshall, including starting the Section 7A final, but it was Paul who got the call at the state tournament. While Messina says his transfer was more because of financial circumstances and not coaching decisions, he’s glad to be the everyday starter at Denfeld.

“I live a block away from Denfeld, so I walk to school every day,” he said. “And, obviously, playing every game is nice, too.

“I try not to worry too much about what coaches do. I just worry about what you can control.”

Messina was outstanding during the second period, stopping several chances while the Greyhounds were shorthanded. Derek Forbort hit the post with a slap shot and fellow defenseman Joe Arbour was denied twice.

Tamasy ended the shutout bid by putting home a rebound on a power play 1:54 into the third. Olson followed his own rebound at 11:00 to secure the win.

“That’s what they were looking for all game,” Messina said of the putbacks.
Cooper did his best to turn the contest into a goalies’ duel. The senior made 10 saves in the first period but was rarely tested afterward.

“He was there big-time in the first period. They had some grade-A chances and he kept them at zero,” East coach Mike Randolph said. “Cooper was the only one playing [well] at the time. That’s what you want out of a goaltender.”

Cooper, who lowered his 1.25 goals-against average, didn’t take all the credit. Playing behind quality defensemen doesn’t hurt, he said.

“With [Forbort, Arbour, Jake Williams and Alex McLean] — the top four defensemen, they keep [the puck] to the outside and make it easier for me,” Cooper said.

The loss ended a six-game winning streak for the Hunters.

Denfeld .................. 0-0-0—0
Duluth East ........... 0-0-2—2

First period — No scoring.
Second period — No scoring.
Third period — 1. DE, Julius Tamasy (Max Tardy, Kenny Mellin), 1:54 (pp); 2. DE, Brent Olson (Jake Williams), 11:00.
Saves — Matt Messina, Duluth Denfeld, 41; Matt Cooper, Duluth East, 15.

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