DULUTH — Even for coaches who enjoy interacting with reporters every week, few — if any — are ever pleased to be answering questions about who is starting in goal on any given night.

It usually means things aren’t going well.

St. Cloud State coach Brett Larson had to address his goaltending situation last week after his two netminders combined to give up 12 goals in three consecutive losses.

This week it was North Dakota coach Brad Berry facing questions about his netminders, and his team was coming off a shootout win and regulation win, though the Fighting Hawks had to yank starter Adam Scheel one night.

The one NCHC coach who hasn’t faced questions about who his starter will be for some time now is Minnesota Duluth’s Scott Sandelin. It’s been a couple years now, in fact, thanks to senior goaltender Hunter Shepard. The two-time national champion from Cohasset is set to tie an NCAA record with his 104th consecutive start at 7:36 p.m. Friday when the NCHC-leading Fighting Hawks visit Amsoil Arena.

If Shepard — who has started every UMD game dating back to Oct. 21, 2017 — makes his 105th straight start in the 7:07 p.m. rematch with North Dakota on Saturday, he’ll break the previous mark set by Cornell’s Ben Scrivens from 2007-10.

“You go back to that November when he grabbed the net, how can you argue with what he’s done?” Sandelin said of Shepard. “He’s had a tremendous career. He’s been a rock for us. He’s been a huge reason why we’ve had the success. It’s pretty easy to keep going with him.”

Shepard enters this weekend’s series against UND with a .921 save percentage and 1.93 goals against average in 107 career games, including 106 career starts.

Earlier this season he set the UMD record for career wins by a goalie. His 66 are currently second among active college goaltenders to Penn State senior Peyton Jones’ 72. Shepard’s eight NCAA tournament victories — in eight NCAA tournament games — is tops among active goalies.

Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard celebrates with the national championship trophy after defeating Massachusetts 3-0 the NCAA Championship at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y.  Shepard is a perfect 8-0 in NCAA tournament games with back-to-back national championships. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com
Minnesota Duluth goaltender Hunter Shepard celebrates with the national championship trophy after defeating Massachusetts 3-0 the NCAA Championship at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Shepard is a perfect 8-0 in NCAA tournament games with back-to-back national championships. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

“It’s always nice to have a cement wall behind you, knowing that if you make a mistake, he's always there to have your back,” said UMD senior Nick Wolff, who is serving as a co-captain with Shepard this season. “I’ve said this before, he's a cement block on our on our hockey team and he leads by example.”

A year ago Shepard became the first UMD goalie since Alex Stalock in 2007-08 to start and appear in every game in a season. He also set a UMD single-season record for goals against average at 1.76 — one he also broke the year before.

Shepard was relieved just once last season by backup Nick Deery, who he split time with at the start of 2017-18 as the two battled to replace Hunter Miska. Shepard cemented himself as the starter after stopping 52 of 53 shots in a late October series against Maine to pick up his first of 14 career conference goaltender of the week awards. That weekend also included the first of what is now a school-record 17 career shutouts — the most for any active NCAA goalie.

He finished 2017-18 with eight shutouts and a .925 save percentage, both of which are single-season UMD records.

Minnesota Duluth senior goaltender Hunter Shepard (32) blocks a shot on goal on Jan. 4 during an outdoor practice at the Glen Avon rink in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood. (Clint Austin /caustin@duluthnews.com)
Minnesota Duluth senior goaltender Hunter Shepard (32) blocks a shot on goal on Jan. 4 during an outdoor practice at the Glen Avon rink in Duluth's Woodland neighborhood. (Clint Austin /caustin@duluthnews.com)

Shepard said he’s most proud of always being there for his teammates.

“There's always gonna be little nagging things throughout the course of a season. It's kind of cliche to say, but the best ability is availability,” Shepard said. “I just want to be out there for the team and not have them worry about whether you’re going to be in the net every Friday and Saturday. I’m just trying to be consistent.”