Feb. 29, 2012
The official Gameday Program at each Badgers home series includes player profiles. This feature is just one of the exclusive items available inside the program, which is available for purchase on game day at Kohl Center or online at NationalWClub.com. Today we look at freshman goalie Joel Rumpel, who was featured in the program for the St. Cloud State series. | Purchase Gameday Programs
BY MARK BENNETT
MADISON, Wis. -- Over 30 years since his uncle Roy Schultz won All-American honors in goal for the Badgers, freshman goaltender Joel Rumpel now holds the reigns for the Wisconsin hockey team.
Rumpel, who comes from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, a town of about 15,000 located two hours north of the border with Montana, has had to adjust quickly to the game of college hockey. As a rookie, Rumpel has started 21 of the team’s 32 games this season, sharing duties with fellow freshman Landon Peterson.
This season marked the first time since 1964-65 that the Badgers entered a season without a goaltender with collegiate experience.
At the same time though, it’s not unprecedented for a Wisconsin goalie to find success early on. In the program’s history, three goalies have won WCHA Rookie of the Year honors—Curtis Joseph, Mike Richter and Jim Carey.
Rumpel found his opportunity to make a mark on the team early—starting in goal for the team’s second game this season.
“It was a Saturday night game and we were just coming off a loss, so we really needed a win,” Rumpel said. “It was kind of a little nerve-racking for sure—walking out in front of over 10,000 fans and the student section and everything. I don’t even know if I remember much about it.”
The night was a win for Rumpel— the first in his career and the first for the team in the season. Since that evening, Rumpel has built up a 10-9-2 record with a .910 save percentage and 2.70 goals allowed average.
Rumpel also became just the second freshman goalie in the modern era for UW to record two shutouts in a season, the other being Terry Klesinger in 1980-81.
Rumpel says his confidence is starting to grow and credits his coaches for helping to improve his play.
“Usually back in the day, if the puck was there, I would just stay in position and try to block it,” Rumpel said. “Whereas now, Coach [Jeff] Sanger and [Head Coach Mike] Eaves have been trying to get me to be a little more aggressive—pouncing on those pucks, swinging my stick down—just getting them away from in front of the net.”
It’s a coach that Rumpel has had for much longer though that deserves a lot of credit too—1980 All-American Roy Schultz, Rumpel’s uncle.
Schultz played two seasons in goal for the Badgers from 1978-80 before signing a contract with the Boston Bruins. (After Schultz left, Klesinger found an opportunity in goal, recording his two shutouts as a freshman the next season.) Schultz finished his career at UW with a 29-21-1 record, along with a .881 save percentage.
Those numbers were skewed in some sense though by a team that struggled in front of him during the 1979-80 season, and Schultz was still recognized as one of the best in college, earning All-American honors.
Rumpel said having his uncle around his whole life has been a big boost in his hockey career.
“It’s been nice having him growing up,” Rumpel said. “He’s been my goalie coach since I was a little guy. So it’s kind of cool having that kind of history with this school, and then trying to follow in his footsteps.”
Rumpel, who is one of the more animated guys in the Badger locker room, says his uncle left him some advice before coming to Madison, making sure he followed those footsteps the right way.
“Just the main thing he always told me was, enjoy it—enjoy the experience,” Rumpel said. “Take it all in, join different groups, go to football games and go to basketball games. Because he said his time here was a little bit rushed and he didn’t really get to take it in like he would like me to do.”
A former star pentathelete in high school, Rumpel has always excelled athletically. But is Joel Rumpel the next Roy Schultz? Only time will tell, but Rumpel definitely carries with him the same determination his uncle played with.
“He always talks about how he would just play hard, he would battle every single game,” Rumpel said. “So I definitely try to incorporate that into my game.”