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Blaine's Malvin cool under fire

By Loren Nelson, Editor, 09/06/11, 6:33PM CDT

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Senior goaltender leads Team Southeast past Team Northeast in Elite League opener

Under normal circumstances, the words hesitant and nervous have no business mixing in the same sentence as Nick Malvin.

The Blaine senior is nothing if not aggressive and confident.

Malvin is goaltender who routinely challenges shooters, cutting angles and offering precious little in terms of openings.

Malvin also isn’t afraid to handle the puck, and he has the ability to move it out of the zone with a single, razor-sharp pass.

Making his first start in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League, Malvin admittedly felt out of his element on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.

“It was tough. It was a little nerve wracking,” Malvin said. “I was hesitant to play the puck because I didn’t want to go out and make that mistake.

“It cost me on a goal on a wraparound and a short side goal. I was nervous I guess.”

If that was Malvin was at his worst in the Elite League season opener, he’s going to be just fine.

The two goals he allowed in Team Southeast’s 5-2 victory both came in the second period. He was flawless in the third, making seven saves as Team Southeast rallied from a 2-1 deficit by scoring four unanswered goals.

Despite the jitters, it was a typical Malvin performance. Last year during the high season he ranked among the state’s top 10 in save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (1.86) as Blaine reached the state tournament for sixth consecutive season.

“It’s a faster pace (than high school), a lot more puck movement,” Malvin said. “You’ve just always got to be aware of what is around you because you just never know when they are going to pass it back door.”

Malvin and Team Northeast’s Blake Cates of Stillwater are two of nine Elite League goaltenders who are not assigned to a single team but instead will play on multiple teams throughout the season.

“It’s confusing,” Malvin said about the goaltender’s schedule that designates a starter for each team and a single reserve goaltender. “In the long run, it’s just going to help us get more games.”

All-Mr. Hockey line?

Team Southeast featured a line that boasts one of this season’s Mr. Hockey favorites in senior Justin Kloos of Lakeville South, one of the state’s leading scorers last season, joined by Hill-Murray’s Jake Guentzel and Burnsville’s Tyler Sheehy.

While much can change in two full seasons, the slippery Guentzel, a junior, is a likely 2013 Mr. Hockey frontrunner.

Sheehy, one of the few sophomores in the Elite League, scored a goal in his debut and certainly could be Mr. Hockey material in three years.

Statistics, Summary

Photo Gallery

Game Recap

Nick Malvin of Blaine stopped 27 of 29 shots, and Team Southeast rallied from a one-goal deficit entering the third by scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 triumph on Tuesday, Sept. 6, in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League season opener at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope.

Team Southeast trailed 2-1 entering the third, but Andrew Commers of St. Thomas Academy tied the score at 2 just 6:43 into the period. Eagan’s Nick Kuchera put Team Southeast ahead 3-2 less than 2 minutes later.

Nate Flynn of Hastings and Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville capped the scoring with goals in the final 6 minutes.

After a scoreless first period, Team Northeast surged ahead on second-period goals by Peter Krieger of St. Thomas Academy and Lucas Kohls of Forest Lake. Sandwiched between those goals was one from Team Southeast’s Cory Chapman of Burnsville.

Blake Cates of Stillwater stopped 30 of 35 shots for Team Northeast.

Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play.

Three Stars

1. Nick Malvin, Team Southeast
The senior looked perfectly at ease in his Elite League debut, stopping 27 of 29 shots and holding Team Northeast scoreless in the first and third periods.

2. Andrew Commers, Team Southeast
One of 11 players to register a point for Team Southeast, the relentless Commers, who scored a third-period goal, looked just as he did last spring when he played a starring role in St. Thomas Academy’s run to the state Class 1A championship.

3. Cody Corbett, Team Northeast
No goals, no assists for the defenseman from Stillwater, but he was a standout in both the offensive and defensive zones with his skating and puckhandling skills.

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com