Sunday, 4 March 2012

Third-String Goalie?

There was an extremely weird happening in the OHL tonight in the game between the Erie Otters and the Niagara IceDogs. The player pictured to the left, Connor Crisp, was thrown into action by his coaching staff. Crisp is normally a forward for the Erie Otters, but he was asked to take on a new role tonight as the Otters were faced with a major dilemma: no goaltender. And that's where Connor Crisp stepped in to help his team.

The problems started with Erie being on a roadtrip. Goaltender Devin Williams was injured in a shootout loss to Saginaw on Friday, leaving Erie with just one goaltender available in Ramis Sadikov. As long as Sadikov could make it through the game against Niagara, the Otters would return home after the game and all would fine.

Except that Sadikov didn't make it. Just 1:45 into the game against Niagara, IceDogs forward Alex Friesen destroyed Sadikov by running over him. Friesen earned a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, but it left Erie with a serious netminding problem.

Forward Dane Fox and defenseman Liam Maaskant went down the tunnel to the Otters' dressing room while Sadikov was carted off the ice. But rather than losing one of two dressed players, injured forward Conner Crisp hit the ice in the goaltending equipment! Crisp hasn't played since the preseason due to shoulder surgery stemming from a game against Windsor, but he jumped into action to help his team today!

Here's the video of Sadikov getting destroyed, followed by the emerging goaltending star!

In Connor Crisp's defence, he hasn't played as a goaltender in a game that mattered since he was five years-old. Coming in to play net after having missed the majority of the season with a shoulder injury? That's not something you'd see a lot of players volunteering to do.

"I was just hanging out in the stands and I saw Rammer [Sadikov] got run and I got a call from [Otters assistant general manager] Dave Brown saying, 'Are you ready?'" Crisp told reporters. "I was like, 'Seriously?' And he says, 'Oh no, I think he'll be fine." And the next thing I know he's being helped off the ice.

"I pretty much sprinted to the change room and started gearing down. [Coach] Robbie [Ftorek] walked in and I asked, 'Am I going in?' He said, 'We need a goalie.' I've never been dressed up as a goalie before. I had no idea what I was doing. I had [teammate] Dane Fox strapping one pad on, our equipment manager doing up the other one, the goalie coach telling me what to do. It was a hectic 15 minutes of getting dressed. I've never been so nervous in my life.

"As soon as I got the nod from the coach, I was like, 'Jesus, this is becoming so real right now.' As soon as I stepped on the ice and could barely skate at first with the goalie skates on, I was thinking this could be a long day."

And it was. Despite making 32 saves, Niagara still poured in a baker's dozen, winning the game by a 13-4 score. However, not all was lost in the drubbing as Crisp was awarded the game's first star and he was congratulated and mobbed by the IceDogs for his efforts in his goaltending debut.

With Erie firmly entrenched in last place in the West Division with a 10-45-3-3 record, there wasn't much on the line for the Otters in this game against Central Division-leading Niagara IceDogs. Win or loss, there was no denying that Crisp's efforts were pretty impressive considering that he hasn't played any net in over a decade, especially in the OHL and coming off a shoulder injury.

There really was only one question remaining after the game: how's the shoulder?

"Everything felt great when I was out there in goal, so I imagine it will when I get in there as a skater," he said. And with that, Crisp will go back to being a forward when the Plymouth Whalers come to town on March 7. But for 58 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, Connor Crisp was the starting goaltender of the Erie Otters!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Robert Ullman said...

No stick tap to Barak for the Post Title? I'm scandalized!

Great story, great recap!

Teebz said...

Unfortunately, no. I was trying to work it in there, but it turned out that Crisp had a jersey made up for him just in case they needed him. Turned out that #1 Crisp jersey was put to good use!

By Jeff's definition, "It's defined as 'A fan who sits in the stands wearing a jersey.' If that's not us, we don't know what is...". Crisp didn't exactly fit that billing. ;o)

Robert Ullman said...

He needs to buy that one. Talk about a Holy Grail!