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Commentary: Cam Johnson not UND's issue

GRAND FORKS, N.D.--The easy target is the goaltender. So, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Cam Johnson has become the lightning rod for fans during the team's two-win November. It's easier than spreading out blame across a dozen forwards a...

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Michigan State forward Patrick Khodorenko (55) slips a shot past University of North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson (33) in the second period of SaturdayÕs match Subway Holiday Classic between the Fighting Hawks and Spartans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

GRAND FORKS, N.D.-The easy target is the goaltender.

So, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Cam Johnson has become the lightning rod for fans during the team's two-win November.

It's easier than spreading out blame across a dozen forwards and a half-dozen defensemen. But in this case, it hasn't been warranted.

Cam Johnson has not been this team's issue.

During the month of November, Johnson faced more shots than any goalie in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, yet he still led the NCHC in nearly every major goaltending category-saves, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

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Johnson's save percentage in November of .918 was seven points higher than the second-best in the NCHC, Minnesota Duluth's Hunter Miska's .911. It was eight points better than third-place Tanner Jaillet (.910) of Denver.

Johnson's goal-against average in November was 2.09-18 points higher than Jaillet's and 54 points higher than third-place Evan Weninger of Omaha.

He had the same number of shutouts in November (two) as the rest of the NCHC goalies combined.

And UND was the NCHC's best defensive team in the month of November, giving up 2.12 goals per game, which ranked ahead of Denver (2.33), Minnesota Duluth (2.67) and Western Michigan (2.67).

That suggests that there may be other reasons why UND went 2-3-3 in the month.

In November, UND ranked sixth of eight NCHC teams in offense.

Sure, it hasn't helped that star forward Brock Boeser played hurt for the first three weeks of the month before having to miss the Michigan State series last weekend. It hasn't helped that several players are on lengthy goal droughts.

But if UND added one more goal per game during November-just moving the Fighting Hawks to the middle of the pack in the NCHC in that category-it would have gone 5-1-2 during the month and would be sitting at 10-3-2 overall.

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Are there some goals here and there that Johnson wants back? Surely, there are. That's true for any goaltender.

But an average offensive output would have made all the difference in November.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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