MEN'S HOCKEY: BSU goaltender Mimmack’s patience, perseverance pays off for first career win
BEMIDJI -- Reid Mimmack didn't know until he walked into the locker room at about noon last Saturday. He was going to be Bemidji State's starting goaltender against Alaska.
BEMIDJI - Reid Mimmack didn’t know until he walked into the locker room at about noon last Saturday. He was going to be Bemidji State’s starting goaltender against Alaska.
“Coach just kind of pointed at me and said, ‘Hey, you’re in tonight.’ I had a big smile on my face,” Mimmack said.
That smile hasn’t really left Mimmack’s face this week.
The Bemidji State junior earned his first career collegiate victory last weekend, as the Beavers beat Alaska 6-3. Mimmack stopped 20 of 23 shots in what was his first game action since March 2014.
It was a big win for Mimmack and the Beavers, who were in a seven-game winless streak and still looking for their first WCHA victory.
BSU head coach Tom Serratore said his team needed a change, so he gave Michael Bitzer, a sophomore who had started all eight of BSU’s previous games, a break.
“We felt we needed to change some things up and we did,” Serratore said. “It wasn’t easy for Reid, he hadn’t played in awhile, (and it’s tough to) come in cold. But he was excited about the opportunity. We needed that win and he got the win for us.”
The Beavers host Lake Superior State this weekend at the Sanford Center. Serratore said he’s not sure who will be BSU’s starting goaltender, but either way, Mimmack is ready if called upon.
“It’s just about moving forward and getting better every day,” he said. “Obviously people who saw the game, saw highlights, saw there were a couple of goals that I feel like were not really me, that I feel like shouldn’t have gotten by me.
“Now the next step is shoring those up and making sure those never happen again, moving forward and getting more wins for the team.”
Mimmack, a Brainerd native, has always challenged himself.
A three-sport star at Brainerd High School (he played quarterback on the Warriors’ football team and catcher/outfielder on the baseball team in addition to being the starting goaltender), the drive to push himself has carried over into his college career.
A chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry, Mimmack has been a member of the WCHA All-Academic team for the past two seasons and was a WCHA scholar-athlete last season - which stipulates that a player must have at least a 3.5 grade-point-average.
After high school, Mimmack spent parts of three seasons playing junior hockey for five different teams - not the easiest life for a person wanting to play college hockey. It wasn’t until December 2012, right before Mimmack was about to age out of juniors, that Serratore and the Beavers called him to join the team midseason.
Mimmack said it was an easy choice, even if he wasn’t sure how much ice time he would see.
“I had a few other opportunities at some really well known academic schools, but what it came down for me is where am I going to have the best opportunity to play hockey?” he said. “So growing up, seeing the WCHA, living in Brainerd, knowing about the WCHA, it was a dream to play in the WCHA.
“So when I got that call saying, ‘Hey Reid, we’d like you to come out there in December,’ it was, “Hmm, let me check my schedule… yes, of course I’ll be there now.’ It was a dream come true and I couldn’t not say yes.”
Mimmack didn’t appear in any games that season and took a redshirt before making his debut in relief on Nov. 9, 2013, at Ferris State.
His first start wasn’t until Nov. 30, 2013, against Miami. He made 23 saves in that game but the Beavers lost 6-3. Mimmack saw one more game in the crease that season (March 7, 2014, against Bowling Green), also in relief, but until Saturday, that was his last game action.
“My first and only start was about two years ago against Miami of Ohio and it didn’t quite go the way I had hoped,” he said. “It’s tough when you have that sour taste in your mouth, but knowing that the guys are behind you and the confidence that they had in me gave me a lot of confidence in myself.”
Mimmack gave up two second-period goals that tied the game Saturday but made some impressive saves in the third to help the Beavers pull out the victory.
Serratore said Mimmack’s win was much-deserved.
“Reid’s a dedicated scholar-athlete,” he said. “He comes and he works his tail off every day. It’s not easy being a backup goalie. He got a great win. He felt confident, and our guys played well, so it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
Ready for Lake State
The last time the Beavers and Lake Superior State met, the Lakers swept the home series last January, snapping what had been a seven-game unbeaten streak for BSU. The Beavers (2-5-2, 1-4-1 WCHA) and the Lakers (2-8-2, 0-2-2 WCHA) are at the bottom of the league standings with three and two points, respectively.
“They’re big games for both of us,” Serratore said. “Every game is big right now. We’re in a league right now where every game is going to be a battle. I don’t care who the top-ranked team in the league is, who the bottom team in the league is. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. They’re going to be dogfights.”
Mimmack, whether or not he plays again this season, is prepared for whatever is next in his career - be it hockey or something else down the line. He said he’d ultimately like to be a doctor.
“You can only play hockey for so long in your life,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been blessed to play as long as I have. That said, I’m at school right now, I might as well make the most of it. I’m going to challenge myself on the ice, and I’m going to challenge myself on the classroom, so whenever that day does come that I’m done with hockey that I’m going to have solid degree to back up on.”
Until then? He’s still preparing for Lake Superior State.
“I think going forward it’s stay the course, build on the momentum we built this last game,” he said. “It’s a little bit personal with Lake State, since they swept us last season. We need to go out there and show that we’re a team to be reckoned with down the stretch.”
For a video of BSU coach Tom Serratore discussing Lake Superior State, click here .