Ex-NHL goalie Berthiaume replaces Stoltz on Liberty’s staff
In a season marked by injuries to both of its goalkeepers, Liberty University's ACHA men's hockey team's latest loss was its goalie coach, former Flames net-minder Dalton Stoltz, who will help his father-in-law start a church in the Hampton area.
Liberty Head Coach Kirk Handy had an ace up his sleeve, calling on Daniel Berthiaume, a former NHL goalie who played against Flames assistant coach Jeff Boettger when Berthiaume played for the Roanoke Express and Boettger was with the Chesapeake (Md.) Icebreakers in the late 1990s.
Nicknamed "The Bandit" during his NHL days, Berthiaume played for 22 different teams over his 22-year professional hockey career, including five NHL squads over a seven-year stretch. The Winnepeg Jets selected him with the 60th overall pick of the 1985 NHL entry draft and he went 18-7-3 in his rookie season with a 3.17 goals-against average and 88.5 save percentage.
He later played for the Minnesota North Stars, with Wayne Gretzky on the Los Angeles Kings, the Boston Bruins, and the expansion Ottawa Senators.
For his NHL career, which extended through 1994, he posted an 81-91-21 mark with a 3.67 GAA, but would have had a winning record were it not for his second-to-last season, when he finished 2-17-1 for the Senators in 1993.
Berthiaume went on to play for three ECHL teams from 1994-2003, including seven seasons at Roanoke, totaling a 201-116-36 record with an above-90 save percentage.
Since playing his last season of semi-professional hockey with the Port Huron Beacons of the UHL in 2004-05, where he later coached before coaching at VMI, Berthiaume has operated Captain Bert's Fishin' Charters on Smith Mountain Lake.
"He's excited because his fishing charter boat company isn't very busy in the wintertime," Handy said. "He was like an 18-year-old kid at practice the other day, just excited to be out there and excited to work with our goalies. And I'm excited, too, because he's got a real passion for seeing our goalies get better and seeing our team get better."
"I love being around the guys," Berthiaume added. "It's going to be challenging and a lot of fun. It's very exciting to be a part of this organization and this school and it's fun to work with young goaltenders who want to learn and want to get better."
He is looking forward to helping the Flames get prepared for the second semester and the ACHA Division I National Championship tournament in March.
"I'm coming at the right time," Berthiaume said. "The most exciting part of hockey's at the end of the year, before you get to the playoffs. So far this year, it's been a tough year for the goaltender. They'll be back and we'll get them going, get them ready to go. We'll be in good shape by the time the Big Dance comes."
Handy was thankful for Stoltz's service, returning to coach Liberty's goalies this fall after another former Flames keeper, Mike Binnie, moved to New York.
"It's a bittersweet day for us," Handy said. "Dalton's meant a lot to our program. He had a passion for seeing our guys go on mission trips and he was responsible for connecting us with Jeff Boettger, who's been a huge part of our team."