Schierhorn steps in goal

The freshman from Alaska has started all seven games for the Gophers so far.

Mike Hendrickson

Freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn was asked to do something difficult upon arriving on campus.
 
Replace Adam Wilcox.
 
The former Big Ten Player of the Year signed a professional contract in the offseason, and Schierhorn has started every game for the Gophers in net since.
 
The Anchorage, Ala., native has stepped up to the task through seven games, as he is currently tied for the Big Ten lead in save percentage and is 22nd in the NCAA in goals
allowed against average.
 
“He’s looked at-home at that net since game one,” sophomore defender Jack Glover said after the team’s series against Northeastern. “He’s been our best player by far.”
 
Wilcox left Minnesota as the program’s all-time leader in save percentage and goals against average, and Schierhorn won the offseason competition to replace him.
 
Schierhorn isn’t new to success, however, as he was named the goaltender of the year playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the United States Hockey League before
coming to Minnesota. In 2014-15, his second season with the Lumberjacks, he led the league in saves and save percentage.
 
That success has translated well to college hockey so far.
 
“I feel comfortable,” Schierhorn said. “The defense [is] doing a good job of allowing me to make the first save, then clearing everything else out. It makes my job easier.”
 
Schierhorn didn’t have a coach who would work with him specifically on goaltending back in the USHL.
 
Now at Minnesota, he gets to work with volunteer goaltending coach Justin Johnson, who has helped him become more comfortable as he adjusts to a new level of hockey.
 
“It’s been huge. We go over video, he shows me things in games [and says], ‘Hey, work on this,’ ” Schierhorn said. “I’m able to add to my game more than I think I have in past years, and I can already see that this year it’s been a big help.”
 
Schierhorn said Johnson has also been working with him on little things in goal, such as setting his position in front of the net and having steadier feet.
 
The fixes seem to be holding up in games so far.
 
In the series against No. 18 Notre Dame this past weekend, Schierhorn had 62 saves and allowed five goals total — four in the first game and one in the second.
 
The goaltender will look to continue to grow as he gains experience in college, but for now head coach Don Lucia said he has just done what the team has asked of him.
 
“I think he can feel good about his game because he’s been very consistent,” Lucia said before last weekend’s series against Notre Dame. “He’s given us an opportunity to win. … He’s done his job. He’s given us a chance. Our guys have a lot of confidence in him, and that’s important for the team to have confidence in your goaltender.”