Teglia looks to fill void left behind by Dainton

By Michael Wood

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With the season just about to begin, the Massachusetts hockey team is no closer to choosing a starting goaltender than it was at the end of last season.

After losing former captain and all-time saves leader Paul Dainton to graduation, the Minutemen are without the veteran leadership and experience that helped them through a tough year last season.

Sophomore Jeff Teglia figures to be the odds-on favorite to win the job because he saw time in nine games a year ago, most of which came during games where Dainton was pulled early. But with four goalies on the roster this year, UMass coach Don Cahoon said nobody has the job yet and whoever he chooses will have to earn the right to start.

Specifically in regards to Teglia, Cahoon acknowledged his skill and competitive attitude, but said that comparing him to where Dainton was last season isn’t really possible. Like any second-year goalie, Teglia isn’t expected to be as technically sound or experienced as a four-year starter would.

“Paul [Dainton] went into last season with three years of experience under his belt which amounted to close to 100 games,” said Cahoon. “Jeff has a few games under his belt coming on the heels of backing up the starting goaltender, so it’s a whole different position for Jeff [this year] trying to get to a point where Paul essentially was already.”

Style-wise, Dainton and Teglia couldn’t be more different. Dainton made his career at UMass as a butterfly-style goalie who could also be mobile around the net at times if he needed to.

A butterfly goalie plays with his feet apart and knees bent, covering low shots by dropping to his knees and using the span of his pads to cover the net. Dainton’s strengths were his lateral mobility and his ability to quickly take away the bottom of the net. However, he also lost some upper-net coverage with this style and could sometimes be fooled by the angle of a shot.

Teglia is a much more hybrid style goaltender, blending the stand-up and butterfly styles and using his body to make saves by any means possible. He cuts down angles on pucks and high shots and has a quick glove that makes it difficult for opponents to get off a shot that fool him.

“The best thing I do is track the puck,” Teglia said. “I think I’m excellent at fighting through screens and things of that nature and I rely on my athletic ability a lot. But also, I’ve incorporated a lot of little things and fundamentals from last year that I think will help me not have to rely on that as much and I think that will help me a lot this season.”

Cahoon agrees and says that Teglia’s best quality is his natural ability and how competitive he is during both games and practice situations.

“The biggest thing that Jeff does well is he’s an unbelievable competitor,” Cahoon said. “He’s really competitive and he never quits on a shot. If you look at his body of work, you won’t see an orthodox goaltender playing the position. He’s very unorthodox and consequently that’s something that takes bottom-line results to quantify and acknowledge.”

Comparing statistics, it’s not as easy as it seems to differentiate between the two. Dainton holds UMass’ all-time saves record, but he also played on four teams that struggled defensively, forcing him to make more saves. His save percentage is also higher than Teglia’s first nine games, but Teglia was just a freshman and in Dainton’s career, he recorded just two shutouts in a game that he started.

While on the surface, losing Dainton seems like it will leave the Minutemen with a gaping hole in net and as far as experience goes, it does.

Teglia, if he does get named the starter, possesses skill on par with Dainton and has incorporated some of the veteran’s technical skill into his own game.

Cahoon agrees that it will take bottom-line results to quantify the differences between Teglia and Dainton. That means wins. If Teglia can lead UMass to victories early and often against an annually tough Hockey East schedule, he will have the chance to make his own name.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]