Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Defense of Teddy Hume

Today's Collegian article went above and beyond the typical mid-week "Icers say taking penalties is bad," "Icers looking to curb-stomp somebody," or "Icers have balanced scoring" articles - yep, we now have a full-on goaltending controversy:
The coaching staff has yet to announce who will be starting and who will be backing up against West Chester on Friday night.
It's not like it was hard to see this coming. Teddy Hume was pulled from his last two starts after giving up  five goals on 17 shots against Ohio in a 6-3 loss and three on 18 shots against Liberty in a game Penn State rallied to win 7-3. Freshman Mathew Madrazo then got the start in the Icers' last game and played well, despite a 3-2 loss to Liberty last Friday. Even back at the Blue-White game, while Hume was the clear-cut starter going into the season, coach Scott Balboni almost went out of his way to say Hume was on a short leash in an otherwise glowing piece:
That said, if Hume falters at all, Balboni said there are three capable goaltenders — senior John Jay, sophomore Dan Ivanir and freshman Matt Madrazo— ready to step in and play if needed.
Ooooh, foreshadowing in hindsight. Here's what I said about Hume's struggles recently:
By the way, yes, I'm fully aware that Hume has been pulled in his last two starts. I didn't even mention it in my Ohio Weekend Observations, nor did I mention it until now in this post, because I really don't consider it an issue. Hume is a great goalie who was largely victimized by bad play in front of him. Period.
Admittedly, I've softened a little bit on that over the last couple days. One thing always happens in a goaltending controversy, without fail. Fans of the incumbent goalie will talk about how bad the team is defensively, point out that X number of goals were caused by turnovers, etc. while fans of the other guy will point out that hey, you're still allowed to make saves after turnovers, great goalies bail out their team once in a while. I was guilty of falling into that trap, because I'm a fan of Hume's. It's never quite as clear-cut as you want to believe though.

However, I still feel like you have to stick with him going forward. Here's why:
  1. Until his last two games, Hume was playing tremendously. 6-0-0 record, 1.81 goals against average, 0.932 save percentage. He was at his best on October 22nd against Ohio, letting only one goal by during a game in which the Icers were badly outplayed for long stretches. The guy didn't go to bed that Friday night and forget how to tend goal.
  2. A few Penn State goalies in the past have been game managers. Make the saves you're supposed to make, let the guys in front of you handle the rest. Hume is not one of those guys, he has the potential to steal games in a way maybe not seen at the Ice Pavilion since Mark Scally. Exhibit A for me would be the October 10, 2009 game against Ohio - check out the situations Hume and the penalty kill had in front of them there, from the second period to late in the third to overtime. The Icers really had no business winning that game, but they did, largely thanks to Hume. My reason for pointing this out: in the new ACHA, Penn State doesn't out-talent everyone else. The hard reality is that we're probably going to need our goalie to steal a game (or two) like that come March against the likes of Lindenwood or Davenport to win an eighth national championship. Hume's proven that he can be a guy who does that.
  3. Who among the other three goalies has done enough to take the job? Madrazo did play well, yet not well enough to win. Dan Ivanir has barely been tested, as his two appearances were against a completely out-of-their-depth Drexel team and after Hume was pulled against Liberty, where he faced all of six shots in half of a game. John Jay was the guy off the bench against Ohio, stopping 14 of 15 in a game that was already lost. Good, sure, but job-stealingly good?

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