During the Mel Pearson Show on September 30, Pearson stated he has confidence that any of his three goalies can get his team a win. That speaks volumes about the caliber of player the Huskies have added in Matt Wintjes. Wintjes committed in June after an eligibility question turned out unfavorably for previous recruit Marcus Zelzer. Michigan Tech then turned its focus to the Newmarket Hurricanes netminder.
Wintjes joins the Huskies this season as the most successful junior hockey goaltender of the three, with better numbers in the OJHL than either Phillips or Copley had in their leagues. The 5′ 11″ goaltender might be smaller than his teammates, but in three seasons with Newmarket he’s had a goals-against average below 2.33 each year and a save percentage above 0.913. Wintjes was recognized as Goaltender of the Month in September 2012 after starting the season 6–1–1 with a 1.87 GAA, and the Holland Landing, Ontario, native followed that strong regular season with a great playoff run, leading the fifth-seed Hurricanes to two series upsets before falling to Mike Neville’s St. Michael’s squad in seven games. Wintjes led all goaltenders with a GAA of 2.33 in the playoffs and stopped an amazing 93.3% of shots.
As Pearson mentioned during this week’s show, Wintjes isn’t here to just be the doorman on the bench. He’s here to push Copley and Phillips to keep their spots at the top of the depth chart. If they falter, the Huskies won’t hesitate to give Wintjes an opportunity and the freshman will certainly expected to take a larger role if either goalie leaves early. Wintjes won’t have an easy time earning minutes but if he gets the chance, he’ll be up to the task. Wintjes should be given the opportunity to be the number one goalie in 2016–17, but he’ll be pressured by Salmon Arm (BCHL) stud Angus Redmond, who is likely to be a freshman or sophomore that season.