MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University goaltenders Jared Coreau and Reid Ellingson are seeking similar things this season in net for the Wildcats.
Both welcome the competition that an early season battle head coach Walt Kyle has set forth and both hope to come out of it with more ice time this season than last.
Each says the key to success is consistency.
Northern?Michigan University senior goaltender Reid Ellingson, in black, stops a shot by junior Matt Thurber, left, while freshman Dylan Walchuk, right, defends on the play during a intrasquad scrimmage at the Berry Events Center on Saturday afternoon. Ellingson wil split time with sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau to start the 2011-12 season. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
Now let the best goaltender win.
"We're friends off the ice, but even in practice I want to stop more than him and I'm sure he wants to stop more than me, because Walt says it starts in practice and leads into games," said Coreau.
"Reid and I are going to compete. It's healthy competition. We're friends off the ice."
The sophomore, Coreau, and the senior, Ellingson, will share the net for at least the first half of the 2011-12 season, starting this weekend when Northern travels to the Kohl Center in Madison to play the Wisconsin Badgers in nonconference play.
Last season Ellingson received the majority of the starts, taking the net first in 26 of the 31 games he appeared in for a 10-14-3 record. The 5-foot-11, 178-pound senior from Cloquet, Minn., finished with a 2.52 goals against average and .916 saves percentage.
"As a goaltender, both of us want to play every night," Ellingson said. "You want competition. (Coreau) is a great young goalie and if you didn't have someone to push you, you might get complacent. You might not push yourself as much so it helps to have that competition."
Ellingson is expecting Coreau to push him and help elevate his game and Kyle is expecting the same thing out of the 2007 Frank Brimsek Award winner as the top high school senior goaltender in Minnesota.
Kyle said Ellingson was the more consistent goalie in 2010-11, but Coreau showed his ability to steal games with a 3.71 goals against average, .909 saves percentage and a 5-5-2 mark in his 15 appearances that included 13 starts.
As a freshman, Coreau made 49 saves in a 4-4 tie at Michigan Tech - his first game at NMU. Coreau also made 51 saves in a 3-2 win at Notre Dame, 44 stops in a 2-2 tie at Denver and 50 saves in a 3-2 win at Michigan State.
Coreau, who said he spent three days a week doing yoga this summer, also let in his fair share of bad goals as a freshman, however. The night after stopping 50 shots in East Lansing, he gave up three goals on nine shots before the end of the first period. Ellingson had to step in and was able to lead NMU to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory.
"Jared showed the ability to play unbelievable games and if he can gain a level of consistency, he'll be much better for us and we hope that happens," Kyle said.
"I'd like to see Jared eliminate bad goals and I'd like to see Reid elevate his play where he can steal games by himself. He's capable of it.
"We hope he doesn't have to, but we'd like to see him show that and we'd like Jared to show a more consistent level of performance where he doesn't let in the tough goals and put us behind the eight ball."
Kyle said he feels comfortable with either goaltender and in the end, he believes the Wildcats strength in net will surprise people this season.
"We think both are really capable. That's one position early in the year you can eliminate back-to-back fatigue if we split those guys early," Kyle said.
"They can change that plan based on one of them playing poorly or one playing exceptionally well. We'd like to split those guys, I'd say even through the first half of the year to let those guys grow and see who emerges as the guy."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.