Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) freshman goaltender Matt McNeely actually got his first taste of Bulldogs hockey as a visitor at AMSOIL Arena.
McNeely started for the United States Under-18 team in January 2011, making 42 saves in a 4-1 loss in just the second-ever men's game played at the new rink.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," McNeely said. "How could I forget? My entire family was here. They filled up almost an entire section by themselves. It was just a blast."
Now a member of that UMD team, McNeely says it's more fun being on the home team at AMSOIL Arena.
And with the Bulldogs busy preparing for the season's second half, he's getting more and more comfortable between the pipes.
"I think I've got over 10 starts under my belt now," McNeely said, "and I know what to expect every game and what I have to bring in terms of intensity. I fell confident I can do that every chance I get."
He's actually started 12 games for UMD so far this 2012-13 season, posting a (5-6-1) record with a 2.55 goals against average.
His play, even as a freshman, has been solid enough to gain him the trust of every person inside that Bulldogs locker room.
"We can rely on him," senior defenseman and assistant captain Drew Olson said. "He's going to make that big save if he needs to. He's always going to be there to back us up if we mess up."
"He's a good goaltender," head coach Scott Sandelin said. "He's a big kid. He's very athletic. I think he's got a bright future, and hopefully he can get hot for us in the second half."
"He stepped in a lot of big games," freshman forward Tony Camaranesi said, "whether it was one of our first weekends or now. He's played unbelievable for us all year long."
McNeely above everyone else wants that success to continue, and he's got a few things he's focused on headed to the season's second half.
"I want to have a shot-by-shot mentality, never too high and never too low," McNeely said. "I need to be even-keeled, just stay calm the whole time, cool and composed in the net.”