Season 2 Episode 17 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “We Hate NMU” This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath, and Matt Cavender were joined by Jamie Phillips, if you know don’t know who he is, we’re surprised you’re listening spent four seasons as goaltender for Michigan Tech and now that his professional hockey career has wrapped up he’s returned to Houghton as a volunteer goaltender coach while he works on his PhD.
Phillips back in Houghton
For many Michigan Tech hockey fans, the name Jamie Phillips brings up great memories from the time Tech was beginninkg to turn the corner and leave a dark chapter of our history behind us. Phillips holds several Michigan Tech goaltending records including goals against average and save percentage. Phillips has always had a deep love for the school, going so far as to put Pep Band stripes and Tech’s famous e^x chant on his mask, which scored major points with fans and students. Tech has been a major part of his life and development as a player and person, and he’s excited to be back and contributing in a meaningful way.
Edit: After a brief conversation with Jamie, not only was the e^x chant on his mask, I can confirm he used to do the e^x chant on the ice every time he would hear it.
Now that his pro career has concluded, Phillips wanted to set up his exit strategy. He didn’t want to be a guy that was up in the air after retirement. He knew he wanted to go back to school, and he has elected to return to Tech to get his Masters in Kinesiology and Integrated Physiology while offering his services as a volunteer goaltending coach. Soon, he will begin his Doctorate in Physical Therapy through a program that is offered via a partnership between Central Michigan University and Michigan Tech. He views the chance to continue his education while staying involved in hockey as the best of both worlds. Because his schooling is slated to take a long time, the plan right now is for Phillips to stay at Tech for a good while!
From his experience at Tech, Phillips knows how important it is for goaltenders to have a coach specific to their position, both so they can get individual attention and so they can form an important relationship with a staff member other than the head coach. This is why he decided to reach out to Joe for the position, and between him and Dr. Sanregret his transition into the position has been seamless and we’re sure fans can already see his help paying dividends.
During this segment, we also take some time to discuss why the role of a goaltending coach in the NCAA is a volunteer position and not a full-time staff position, as well as if we might see this change in the coming years. It’s certainly interesting that the forwards get an assistant coach, the defensemen get an assistant coach, but goaltenders in the NCAA don’t often have a specific coach advocating for them.
Without explaining Jamie’s comments to death, he takes a lot of time with us this week to explain the nuances of goaltending in the NCAA in terms of coaching and development. His insights are well worth the listen this week.
You Can’t Make A Cool Save if You’re in Position
Positioning appears to have been a focal point of the goaltending staff this season and Jamie breaks down his philosophy on positioning. As the title of this portion suggests, whenever a goaltender makes a routine-looking save, it’s more than likely that it was due to strong positioning whereas the highlight-reel saves more often come when a goaltender is out of position and makes a great play to recover. As Jamie puts it, he would rather have goaltenders of the week than saves of the week. Fans may view shots that are right at the chest negatively, but more often than not credit is due to the goaltender for reading the play well to make the stop.
Positioning is everything for a goaltender. A goalie can go an entire night without making an incredible save, but if they’re able to make saves from dangerous areas look routine, they’re having a great night. The fact that Tech has been having less saves of the week and more goaltenders of the week is completely by design of the coaching staff and Jamie in particular.
Phillips also takes the time to explain the goaltending part of the equation in what was a frustrating 3-game losing streak for the Huskies. We ran into some good goaltenders that did an awesome job at positioning, and that was a large reason we were frustrated watching a lot of those games. Another aspect that frustrated fans was the number of goals put up against us on so few shots. Jamie takes the time to explain that while this can look bad, the type of shots that were taken against us were more often than not just difficult scoring chances to stop, such as low-to-high quick one-timers from distance that are hard to stop, especially with traffic. Other teams have been able to capitalize on their opportunities, and fortunately the Huskies were able to reverse their luck a little bit with a dominant win over Lake State on Tuesday.
Phillips was in net for the longest game in Michigan Tech history, a 118 minute and 49 second showdown with Alabama-Huntsville resulting in a 1-0 Tech win. “That was a doozy,” Phillips says. After that game, Phillips and former Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Carmine Guerrero developed a bit of a friendship based on mutual respect after facing each other in that game and seeing each other several times again in the pros. They’ve kept in contact for the last 5 or 6 years. He says that his performance at the other end was the best display of goaltending that he’s ever seen. It’s a relationship that continues to this day, as Guerrero is currently filling a similar role in Huntsville that Phillips is with Tech. This game includes a lot of memories for fans, including the Misfits running out of cheers, singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and getting through all 99 bottles of beer before a goal was scored.
Jamie also shares some more of his favorite memories of Tech as a player, and the way he talks about his time at Tech is really special. We also took some time to talk about what makes being a college hockey fan and a Michigan Tech fan so special. The fan-athlete relationship is just so special, because our fanbase isn’t cheering for some people we’ve never met, we’re cheering for our friends, classmates, school and our community.
This week, we had a lot of questions to ask Jamie, both from patrons in our discord chat and from our own hosts.
Marvin Wilson wanted to know if Jamie has any influence on recruiting. Volunteer coaches aren’t allowed to travel to recruit, but he is allowed to watch video provided by the assistants. Once he has this video, he can watch it and provide his input as to how he thinks that player may fit into the program. Because of the nature of the league, Tech is always looking for players because you never know what will happen with guys until they’re officially on campus, so it’s truly a never-ending process.
Another question was about Cayden Bailey and how he’s been looking in practices. According to Jamie, Cayden has been on the right path, is taking great strides in his game, has taken a lot of feedback from the coaching staff in stride. Unfortunately, there’s only 1 net and we have 2 great starters. With that said though, when the time comes for him to jump into a game, he will be ready to tackle the challenge.
We also inquired as to if Jamie had any input in the offensive zone, and he offers his perspective as to how he structures practices to get players shooting both to challenge the goaltenders and develop our offense to read goaltenders well.
“It’s honestly just hatred.”
Jamie gives his insights as to what it was like to be a player involved in this great rivalry we have with Northern Michigan. As a freshman going into the game, you’re told “oh, this is our biggest rival, we hate them,” etc. But, once you’re in the game, you everything clicks and you just hate the other other team. From the way their fans treat you to the way you feel going into an opposing barn, it’s just top to bottom hatred that fuels the Michigan Tech/Northern Michigan rivalry. As Tech fan or player, there’s simply no better feeling than beating Northern.
One of Jamie’s favorite memories was that in his final season, the Huskies were able to spoil Northern’s senior night in a big way, winning 4-1 in Marquette, then shutting the Wildcats out in Houghton. Here’s some highlights from that big game on the road.
With all that said though, it’s a rivalry that’s very uniquely UP. Both schools understand the challenges that small schools in the Upper Peninsula faces, and if one or the other goes on to represent the UP on a national stage, the other is supportive, albeit reluctantly.
Cut For Time
This week’s cut content for Patreon subscribers is about 24 minutes long. It includes asking Jamie some classic Mitch’s Misfits penalty box questions, the possibility of staggering game start times in the CCHA, best goaltender names in the WCHA, shootout frustrations, learning how to skate, and more. Subscribe to hear more!
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