Eric Schierhorn still recalls situations when the Minnesota Golden Gophers were tied or trailing late last season, and an 18-year-old Casey Mittelstadt - playing his first and only season of college hockey - would skate by the net to offer reassurance.
"He'd come skate by me if there was a faceoff in our end and be like, 'Hey, we're going to get you one. I'm going to get you one,'" Schierhorn, now a senior goaltender at Minnesota, said by phone Monday. "He's putting it on his shoulders that he's going to win us the game. He wants to be that guy."
Mittelstadt was that guy for the Buffalo Sabres in their win over Vancouver on Saturday, beating Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom on his first NHL shootout attempt. He insisted afterward that he wasn't nervous. His skills, he said, were polished from a year of practice shootouts in college.