ISU goalies tested for remainder of season


Junior goalie Matt Cooper blocks a shot from a Indiana opponent during the first of two match-ups between the teams on Jan. 10. Cooper saved 24 out of 26 attempted goals during the game.

Will Musgrove

For Cyclone Hockey, two goaltenders are better than one — at least for now.

Matt Cooper was slated to be the starting goalie for the No. 7 Cyclones (26-8-2, 11-5-0 CSCHL) this season. That changed when Jason Fairman became head coach of the program and decided to re-evaluate the roles of his players.

Now Cooper and goalie Scott Ismond spilt the duties behind the net for each series, with one playing the first game and the other the next. But come time for the conference playoffs and the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament, it might be the goalie that is playing well at the right time that Fairman has stopping the puck.

“There are special circumstances that you go one and two and alternate till the end of the season, but that is rare.” Fairman said. “You try to figure out who your goaltender is going to be. Whoever gets hot, you play that hot hand, and that’s what we are trying to figure out right now.”

Finding the right goalie to use down the stretch might be a challenge for Fairman as Copper and Ismond have similar numbers on the ice this year. They both have save percentages more than 90 percent and their goals against averages are relatively close, with Cooper at 2.19 and Ismond at 1.89.

One thing which they differ on though is the amount of time played. In his 30 games protecting the net this year, Cooper has played 1617:45 minutes — which is the most in the ACHA — compared to Ismond, who has only played 634:15 minutes in 12 games.

The switch to using two goaltenders, Ismond said, will help limit Cooper’s playing time so neither him nor Cooper become worn down during a series.

“What a lot of people don’t recognize is that it is really straining on the goaltender to be going in and trying to play 120 minutes in a weekend.” Ismond said. “I think it is an advantage for the team overall to have a fresh guy out there mentally and physically.”

Also, Ismond said that even though Cooper and himself are competing for the starting goalie job, they still need to work together.

“I think this is truly the first year that we have had healthy competition behind the net,” Ismond said. “In the past, I think there was almost a sour relationship between goaltenders because we were almost cheering against each other. When Paul [a Cyclone goalie from last season] left last year, I took a step back and knew we couldn’t continue to cheer against each other and that we had to work with each other instead.”

With only eight regular-season games remaining on the schedule this year for the Cyclones, senior forward Mark Huber still wouldn’t be surprised if either Cooper or Ismond is the starting goalie heading into the playoffs.

“It is basically a day-in and day-out thing with goalies,” Huber said. “They either show up for practice or they don’t. But the both have been showing up to practice, so it is tough. I think it is a tight competition.”