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Western States Hockey League: Seattle Totems ride strong goaltending to 6-0-1 start

The Seattle Totems won six of their first seven WSHL games to start the season. Part of that success is credited to their goaltenders.

By Brian Lester

Garrett Willis (of Canada) and Naoki Onodera (Japan) both saw playing time in the first seven games and have combined to make more than 200 saves while allowing a total of 24 goals.

“The difference so far has been our goaltending,” said Seattle head coach Mike Murphy. “Those two have really kept us in games this year. They give us a shot to win every night.”

Offensively, Seattle scored four or more goals in five of its first seven outings. Murphy said his team might not have the most talent but it’s good enough to compete night in and night out.

“We have enough talent to where, if you let us hang around, we’ll end up with four or five goals,” Murphy said.

It’s a stark contrast to past seasons.

“In the past, we’d hang around, but we found ways to lose,” Murphy said. “Now, we are finding ways to win games.”

Michael Shippee paced the team during its strong start, scoring five goals and dishing out 14 assists. Tom Ignatovich is the team leader in goals, punching in 10 to go along with five assists. Both are Seattle natives. Five other players scored at least two goals in the first seven games.

“We have good team camaraderie and the guys are playing well together,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the strong start has given his team a nice shot of confidence and he’s hoping to see the team develop more depth as the season rolls along.

“We’re working to get our younger guys more up to speed. When we get to the meat of our schedule, we have to be able to count on four lines and use our depth to our advantage,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get everyone to contribute and make the plays that need to be made.”

 

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