Michael Garteig’s passport just got another stamp, adding to what has been an impressive couple of years between the pipes.
The Prince George goaltender moved to Finland last year to compete in the country’s elite hockey league, and, though playoffs were cancelled by COVID-19, his performance there caught the eyes of other European nations.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old signed a contract with ERC Ingolstadt of Germany’s top professional league and hopes to land the Ice Panthers’ number-one netminding spot for 2020-21.
“I just want to take with me the momentum I've had over the past few years,” said Garteig in a ERC news release.
“I'm getting older, of course, but I feel like I'm getting better. I had a good year at ECHL and a great year in Finland. My goal is to keep going, to play as much as possible and to win many games. Statistics do matter for a goalkeeper, but I think wins are the best statistic you can have. I just want to keep improving and give the team the chance to win every time I'm in goal."
After claiming an ECHL title in 2019 with the Newfoundland Growlers, Canada’s first team to hoist the Kelly Cup in their first season as a franchise, Garteig packed up his bags to take a shot at playing in the European market.
He didn’t disappoint!
The Prince George Minor Hockey Association (PGMHA) alum had the best save percentage in Finland at 0.928 and was fifth-best in goals-against with an average of 2.01.
In 34 starts, his record with Tappara was 15-9-9, which included three shutouts, after securing the go-to goaltender position halfway through last season.
“I was really lucky because I had a great goalkeeper coach who worked a lot with me and the other goalie,” he explained.
“We spent a lot of time together. Both on and off the ice. He helped me a lot to feel good and supported me so that I could improve things. That also helped me adapt to the style of play. Other than that, it's a defensive league. If I've done my job right, it has often turned out well for us.”
When speaking to PrinceGeorgeMatters following the ECHL championship, Garteig said it’s tough for a goaltender to find a pathway to the NHL, so broadening his horizons was the plan to stick with at the time.
“I think a lot of teams were watching that playoff run,” he said.
“So that’s something that I’ve worked very hard for in the last few years, to find that opportunity to play forward. I’ve re-invented myself a little bit and that's exciting.”
Regardless, Garteig’s latest venture will be added to his extensive hockey resume.
This includes a BC Hockey League (BCHL) and National Junior ‘A’ championship with the Penticton Vees in 2012, a United States college championship with Quinnipiac University in 2016, an undrafted NHL-contract signing with the Vancouver Canucks and several individual accolades in between.
His new team ERC Ingolstadt finished seventh in its league’s 52-game season last year.