Matthew Holmberg won’t tell you who his favourite goalie is.
“It’s difficult to talk about each one individually without talking about the overall role,” the women’s hockey head coach said.
Goaltending depth has been a trademark of Holmberg’s three-year tenure as head coach. His goalies this season are third-year Mel Dodd-Moher, fourth-year Karissa Savage and third-year Engi Lim. He said he won’t name a full-time starter because they’re all good enough to play.
According to Holmberg, more goalies creates more competition and naming a full-time starter wouldn’t give the others incentive to improve. “We take it week to week on who is going to start,” Holmberg said. “I sit down and talk to my assistant coaches and talk about how each goalie is performing and which teams we are playing.”
This season, the team will rely on Dodd-Moher and Savage in their quest to repeat last season’s OUA title. Holmberg said the two goalies will likely have a balanced workload.
Dodd-Moher has made an impact since joining the Gaels in 2009, earning a spot on the CIS all-rookie team in her first year.
Savage started 14 games with the Gaels last season, while Dodd-Moher played 16 games. Savage was sixth in goals against average while Dodd-Moher was in fifth spot.
Savage said she and Dodd-Moher are close friends despite the constant competition for playing time.
“[Dodd-Moher] and I know when to be competitive with each other and we are both very good friends,” she said. “I give her feedback and a pat on the back if she needs it.”
Dodd-Moher started in every game in the Gaels’ playoff campaign last year that saw an OUA title and a national bronze medal.
“We knew that by splitting the season, whoever we chose would be ready for the playoffs,” Holmberg said. “They had both been pushed by each other all season long.”
Dodd-Moher was named a CIS tournament all-star and shared the Queen’s Athletics award for outstanding performance of the year with women’s soccer forward Jackie Tessier.
The Gaels played 28 regular season games, five OUA playoff games and three games at nationals last season. Holmberg said routinely switching goalies kept them fresh.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “Sometimes you have games that are less than 24 hours apart or during exams when the goalies are a little tired.”
Lim, the team’s third-string goalie, made the squad as a walk-on in 2010. Holmberg said having a third capable goalie protects the Gaels from the injury crisis they suffered in 2007-08, when both goalies were hurt at the same time.
“We looked for a goalie on campus and couldn’t find one on short notice,” he said. “Katie Boyd played with a partially-separated shoulder for one game.”