BEMIDJI, Minn. – Former Bemidji State University goaltender Matt Dalton is living a dream this week in Pyeongchang, South Korea. One of the greatest goaltenders in Beaver Hockey history will become the sixth former Beaver to skate in the Olympic Games. Instead of playing for his native Canada, the dual citizen will be a goaltender for the South Korean team as his second home hosts the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The Clinton, Ontario native is in his third season with the South Korean National team. As the host team, the South Koreans are automatic qualifiers for the Olympics and start pool play as one of 12 teams in the tournament Thursday. South Korea is in Group A with Canada, Czech Republic and Switzerland and opens with the Czech Republic at 6:10 a.m. (CT).
Following pool play, the teams are seeded from one to 12 for the playoff bracket based on results. The top four teams automatically advance to the quarterfinals, with the other eight teams playing to fill the other four spots. Once the quarterfinals begin, it is a standard single-elimination tournament with the ultimate prize of a goal medal. The goal medal game will be played Feb. 24.
South Korea’s 26-man roster is made up of three goaltenders, eight defensemen and 14 forwards and includes seven players, like Dalton, who were born and raised in North America.
Starting 31 of 37 games for the Beavers in 2008-09, Dalton posted an overall record of 19-11-1 with a 2.19 goals against average and a save percentage of .921. He backstopped the team to a College Hockey America Tournament championship, a NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament crown and helped BSU advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in program history.
Dalton, a 2009 Second Team All-CHA selection, led the league in goals against average (1.94), tending the net for a team that allowed a league-low 2.11 goals per game and stymied opposing CHA power-play units at a rate of a league-best 86.2-perecent. In addition, the sophomore ranked second in save percentage (.924) and winning percentage (.667 - 11-5-1).
Despite playing just two years in the green and white, Dalton will leave BSU after applying a significant mark on the record book. In addition to posting the program's best career goals against average (2.29), he ranks behind only Tom Bend (1964-67) on BSU's all-time save percentage list (.915) for goaltenders with at least 1,500 minutes played. His 19 wins in 2008-09 stands as just the 15th time in the 53 years of BSU hockey that a goaltender has piled up 19 or more victories in a season, while he ranks fourth and fifth respectively on the Beavers' single-season save percentage (.921) and saves (794) lists.
Dalton left BSU after his sophomore season, signing an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. He bounced around the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League for two seasons and dressed for the Bruins on two occasions, but never got the opportunity to make his NHL debut. Following three seasons in the KHL, Dalton got the opportunity to make the move to Korea to play for Anyang Halla of the Asia League. As the nation ramped up for the 2018 Winter Games, Dalton took the opportunity to apply for citizenship and was added to the South Korean National Team roster.
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