By John Lachmann
It would be hard for Miami’s freshman goaltending tandem of Ryan McKay and Jay Williams to have made a better statement in their debuts.
McKay became the first RedHawk ever to post a shutout in his debut, stopping all 24 shots he faced in the season opener.
Williams followed that up by turned 20-of-21 shots aside in Miami’s series finale last Saturday.
Coach Enrico Blasi said he will likely rotate his goalies, at least at the start of the season.
“I think both of them deserve to play right now and ultimately it’ll be determined by them and how they play,” Blasi said. “But I like both of our goaltenders, they’re solid and they work hard and they’re good kids.”
McKay, with odd netminder dimensions of 6-feet-0, 225 pounds, was the USHL’s co-goaltender of the year with a league-leading 2.20 goals-against average. He went 27-5-3 in the regular season with Green Bay.
His USHL record was an absurd 66-22-8 and his GAA was 2.20 or lower all three seasons. He posted a .924 save percentage his final two juniors regular seasons.
He has built a strong reputation for being a student of the game and is technically about as solid as any goalie at this level. Plus at 225 pounds opponents do not have much to shoot at.
“Not a lot to shoot at, I’ll tell you that,” Blasi said. “He’s very calm, he’s very technical. Now don’t misread: He’s pretty athletic as well, but when he’s making routine saves you know he’s in good position.”
Williams’ numbers were less than impressive last season, mainly because his Sioux Falls team was a woeful 17-43. He posted a 3.78 goals-against average and just a .884 save percentage, but in 2010-11 he finished at 2.62 and .904, respectively.
He looked nervous in the exhibition and in the first period of his debut but improved drastically after getting a few regular-season shots under his belt.
“He’s very athletic, he’s got a lot of energy, he works extremely hard, he’s just one of those guys that I think his upside is really, really good,” Blasi said. “I love the way he competes and how he plays in the net.”
The duo combined for a .978 save percentage opening weekend, and at least early on it appears Miami as strong as ever in net after losing both four-year veteran goalies from 2011-12.
“I think our goaltending is in good shape and they’re continuing to work and just like everybody else, they’re going to need to go through the experience as well, and once the experience is there I think they’re going to be just fine,” Blasi said.