MARQUETTE, Mich. – When the Northern Michigan University hockey team changes a shift during a home game the person at the end of the bench who often times opens the gate is Devan Hartigan, number 33 in your program. That is not his only job with the Wildcats. Hartigan is the third goaltender on the roster behind Brian Stewart and Reid Ellingson. He might not see much ice time during a game or even the season, but the sophomore from Boise, Idaho plays a very important part on the team.
During the 2008-09 season he saw time in six games as Stewart was injured and Derek Janzen was not eligible to play. During the stretch of games he was 1-3-2 with a 2.48 goal-against average and a .903 save-percentage. His lone win came against Ohio State Nov. 21 as he had 25 saves. The highlight of his time between the pipes, the two games in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. against the Lake Superior State Lakers (Dec. 5-6). Both games went into shootouts as the ‘Cats prevailed each night. For his play against the Lakers he was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Rookie of the Week. He blocked 56-of-59 shots over the weekend against LSSU.
Hartigan views his place on the team as a supporting role. “Right now it is a lot of support. Trying to be a good teammate to everybody,” said Hartigan. “Learning the ropes as the starting goaltender. Just watching the other two guys as they play throughout the year and battling through their struggles. ”
It might seem a drag to go to practice every day knowing that you’re playing time might be very limited or none at all. But Hartigan sees the bright side to be on the team and being a contributing member and getting better every day in practice.
NMU head hockey coach Walt Kyle knows the importance of having a goaltender like Hartigan on the team. “He is very capable, works hard in practice and keeps on getting better,” said Kyle. “Last year when we needed him, he stepped in and performed very well. He is an exceptional student and is great to have around the program.”
What does he pick up by being on the bench during a game? “I just watch the mood of the game. To see how (Brian) Stewart and (Reid) Ellingson can affect the game,” said Hartigan. “That really is one of the biggest things, when you make a big save and the crowd chants your name. When you are in the visiting barn and make a huge save and crowd goes silent.”
According to Hartigan he can see key plays develop on the ice and the tendencies of the each team. Also he likes seeing the better players in the league and what their intentions are with the puck. It is a better view from the bench.
Hartigan has always come off the bench during his career. “It is pure adrenaline. It helps me with my style of game, because that is what I feed off of,” said Hartigan. Last year someone gave him the term of “Baptism Under Fire” and that seemed to stick. Being the third goaltender there is no pressures, just enter the game and play.
He wants to improve as a goaltender, but his long term goal is medical school. “Building the faith of the team when I go in,” said Hartigan.
Next time the ‘Cats are playing at the Berry and you see the bench know that Hartigan might not get in, but he has a job to do. It might not appear on the stats, but he is a valuable member of the NMU hockey team.
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Sports Information Director