Minnetonka’s Matt Behounek has the temperament of professional golfer, which is to say he’s learned not to dwell on mistakes or over-celebrate successes.
Behounek is a stay-in-the-moment sort of guy.
That’s the preferred mindset for any goaltender, and one that was particularly useful in the No. 2-ranked Skippers’ 5-3 triumph over No. 6 Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Pagel Activity Center in Minnetonka.
“I just clear my head and just focus on the next shot,” Behounek, a senior, said about his approach after allowing a goal.
The mindset is the same after the Skippers’ score, too.
It never changes.
“I just try to stay in my zone,” Behounek said. “Not try to get too high or too low.”
The teams traded goals three times through two periods and part of the third before Minnetonka pulled away only in the closing minutes. The game was back-and-forth in every sense of the term.
“It felt like there was a lot of pressure all the time,” said Behounek, who faced a season-high 34 shots. “It was down and back. It was never really stuck in our end, or in theirs.”
Behounek was filet knife sharp in the opening period, when he faced 15 shots. The period ended with the score tied at 2, but it could have been lopsided in favor of the Red Knights, who used their eye-blurring speed to secure numerous close-range scoring chances.
“He was huge,” said Skippers junior defenseman Tommy Vannelli, who scored the winning goal with 8 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third. “He was standing on his head, especially in the first period. It wasn’t our best period.”
Behounek improved to 7-1-0 with the win. He has a .904 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average. More notably, he has back-to-back wins against two of the state’s top teams in Moorhead (26 saves in a 5-3 win on Jan. 6) and Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
“He played really well against Moorhead up there, too,” Urick said. “He got peppered a little bit there. The last couple of games he’s played really well. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
Behounek has been rotating starts with junior Paul Ciaccio, who has a 7-0-0 record to go with a .931 save percentage and 1.19 goals-against average.
“I’m not really sure,” Vanelli said when asked if there is a better tandem of goaltenders in the state. “They just push each other in practice. They keep getting better that way.”
With the regular season over half complete, the Skippers aren’t that far from the playoffs. If Behounek and Ciaccio continue their stellar play, Urick will be facing a difficult decision: Who to starts in the postseason?
“I talk about that, and my dad (assistant coach Joe Urick) says, ‘Just live day to day, Brian. Don’t make a decision until you have to,’ ” Urick said. “We’ll see what happens.”