Bemidji State’s Matt Climie joins rare club with shutout
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Freshman goaltender became first Beaver since 1979 to record a shutout in first career start

BEMIDJI, Minn. - One might expect a freshman - even a freshman who will turn 22 years old in February - to have some butterflies when making his first career start. Bemidji State’s Matt Climie, a freshman goaltender from Leduc, Alberta, was no different. Facing his first career assignment as a starting collegiate goaltender against the Bentley College Falcons on Nov. 13, Climie had much to think about - earning the respect of his teammates and coaches, rebounding from a difficult exhibition outing two weeks earlier, and proving his most important critic - himself - that he could compete at the NCAA Division I level.

The start would be Climie’s first appearance on the ice since allowing five goals on 20 shots faced in just 30:46 of work in an exhibition loss to the University of Manitoba two weeks earlier.

“I wanted to earn the respect of the guys and prove to myself and the coaching staff that I could play at this level,” Climie said of his feelings entering the start. “I went out there wanting to stop everything, like I usually do, and play the best I could with my ability.”

The expectations for success were certainly in place. Climie was named the 10th-best incoming freshman goaltender in the nation by Inside College Hockey prior to the season after a stellar run for the Truro Bearcats in the Maritime Junior “A” league. He posted a 30-10-5 record and led the MJAHL with a 2.61 goals-against average last season, with his 30 wins tied for sixth in the 137-team Canadian Junior A league. He was honored with a spot on the MJAHL All-Star team and was named the MJAHL season MVP.

Having watched from the bench as his teammates pounded Bentley, 9-2, less than 24 hours earlier, Climie could have felt the temptation to relax, knowing his offense could overcome any mistakes he might make in net. However, he knew he’d have to bring his best performance if he was to erase the memories of his struggles in the earlier exhibition game and regain his award-winning form from a year ago.

“Usually when you blow a team away, they come back in game two a lot stronger,” Climie said. “We knew Bentley was starting its number one goaltender [on Saturday] and that their guys would come prepared to play.”

Bentley did just that, fiercely testing Climie early in the contest. After mustering just 12 shots in the Friday-night loss, the Falcons peppered Climie with 10 shots in the first period alone, including four from point-blank range during a furious five-on-three power-play which lasted just over 1:45 and saw the puck rarely stray from BSU’s defensive zone.

But Climie came ready to play as well. He made several impressive point-blank saves and survived the onslaught unscathed. As the BSU defense clamped down and allowed just seven total shots in the second and third periods combined he was able to find his comfort zone on the ice.

When it was all said and done, Climie had stopped all 17 shots he faced and became the first goaltender in a Bemidji State sweater to win his first career start since Neil Cooper in 1996, and the first in nearly 25 years to record a shutout.

Jim Scanlon was the last to accomplish the feat, shutting out Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 17-0, with a 12-save effort on Jan. 3, 1979. The shutout for Scanlon was a fitting launching point for what became a stellar career at Bemidji State. He finished his four-year run in 1982 with a 62-19 career record and two national championship rings. His 62 career wins are tied for second-most in school history, and he is third all-time in save percentage (.907), seventh in goals-against average (2.82) and fifth in career saves (2,211). The career-opening shutout was one of nine for Scanlon, tied with Blane Comstock (1967-71) for most in school history.

“I called my dad,” Climie said when asked the identity of the first person he called after the victory. “He was pretty proud. He had come down and watched the exhibition game, and I struggled.”

“We’re real happy with the way Matt played,” BSU head coach Tom Serratore said. “He was tested early on, but he stayed composed. He did everything he was supposed to do, and he tracked pucks well. It was good to see from a coaches’ point of view.

“He has to do more, but he passed the first test and that’s important,” Serratore said. “Now he has to go out there and do it again, and again and again. He has to take every shot in practice like he’s in a game, and when he gets into a game he has to continue to prove himself. We expect that.”

Bemidji State is 3-3-0 on the season and opens College Hockey America play Friday, Nov. 19 at defending CHA Tournament Champion Niagara. It opens a stretch of four CHA games in five days for the Beavers.