With Jeremy Swayman logging all the minutes between the pipes for the University of Maine’s hockey team, senior Stephen Mundinger and freshman Matt Thiessen have been honing their skills in practice.
But with an exhibition game on tap on Saturday against the visiting United States National Team Development Program’s Under-18 squad, Thiessen and Mundinger will get the opportunity to showcase their talents.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
The rest of the season is made up of 12 Hockey East games.
Mundinger has not played in a regular-season game this season but did turn in an impressive performance in a 5-0 exhibition loss to defending Canadian national champion New Brunswick, stopping 17 of 18 shots over 17-plus minutes.
For his career, Mundinger has appeared in five games and has compiled a 3.54 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage.
Thiessen made his college debut Oct. 19 against Quinnipiac and allowed three goals on six shots in 7:02. He has not played since.
Thiessen played 29 minutes in the New Brunswick game and allowed four goals on 14 shots.
Swayman, a junior, is looking forward to seeing his goaltending partners get some playing time on Saturday night.
“This is the best trio I have ever been a part of, no doubt about it,” Swayman said. “We compete against each other every day, no matter what it is … practice, off-ice workouts, anything.
“Both are ready to play. I know that for a fact,” he added. “That’s what keeps me motivated. I’m not able to slack off any day because they’re nipping at my heels.”
Swayman, who ranks second in Division I while having played 1,329 minutes, 4 seconds, leads the country in saves (726), said Thiessen has been a great guy to be around every day.
“Matt will eventually be a leader on this team. He soaks up everything and has a great attitude.” said Swayman, whose .936 save percentage ranks eighth best in the country.
Swayman, a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins, could choose to leave and begin his pro career after this season. Mundinger will graduate.
So the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Thiessen could be the only returnee next season and will be competing with newcomers for the starting job.
The seventh-round choice (192nd overall) of the Vancouver Canucks will face a U.S. Under-18 team for the second straight year. The Altona, Manitoba, native played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Junior Hockey League a year ago.
“They had a fantastic team last year. They had some first-round draft picks. It’s going to be a challenge, and I’m excited to have a challenge come my way.”
Thiessen said he has learned a lot from Swayman and Mundinger.
“They have been really good mentors. They have taught me a lot of little things. We have a great bond together,” Thiessen said.
Thiessen said his confidence took a hit in the Quinnipiac game but that he has regained it through practice and is working hard every day.
“I’m preparing for next year, but I’m also taking this year step-by-step. I need to be ready for any situation,” Thiessen said.