Sunday, 2 March 2014

All Thanks To Ryan Miller

Ok, so it wasn't entirely Ryan Miller's fault, but the trade that went down on Friday night threw a couple of teams into scramble mode as the Sabres and Blues both found themselves down a goaltender before their games. Miller was sent to St. Louis with Steve Ott for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, and some spare parts, leaving a vacant spot at the end of the bench where two goalies would usually be sitting. With minutes to spare before each of their team's games, the two teams found men in the respective buildings they were playing in that could suit up in the emergency.

We'll start with the Buffalo Sabres as they introduced the world to goaltender Ryan Vinz who would wear #35 as the backup to Jhonas Enroth. Vinz is normally the director of hockey technology for HarborCenter, and he was approached about an hour before the game began with an offer: wanna play net tonight?

"I was in full-on panic mode to be honest," Vinz told Amy Mortiz of The Buffalo News. "I was not expecting it or ready for it. I'm just glad I was able to be part of it. I was working on a presentation I have to give on Monday for HarborCenter and I was really focused on that. I skipped dinner with a co-worker, too. It probably was a good thing I stayed in the office."

It's a good thing for the Sabres as well. Vinz, who had his goalie equipment with him in his car, was a high school goaltender with Lancaster High School. He attempted to make the Clarkson Golden Knights as a walk-on, but spent four years as the program's video coordinator after failing to grab a roster spot. He, of course turned that into his position with HarborCenter, and has now played in the NHL thanks to his love of watching sports highlights. Hear that, mom?

Vinz was simply happy to pull on the jersey of his hometown team just for one game. "My parents had season tickets back at the Aud and they would bring home pucks and pennants from each game," Vinz told Mortiz, "I started skating when I was young and I just grew up a hockey fan. I was a goalie because they got to paint their masks. Putting on that jersey of your hometown team, that's was just a life-changing experience."

Atta boy, Ryan! Well done!

The other team that got caught in the goalie shuffle was the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were in Anaheim, so they knew even less people around the rink that they could call upon in their emergency. The Ducks were quick to help out, though, as they offered up one of their own in Jeff Tyni. Tyni is the Ducks' locker room attendant, but he's a former ECHL goalie so he has some talent. He played backup to Brian Elliott wearing #60 in the 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks!

Well done, Jeff, and congratulations on your big moment!

As for the four prominent men in the trade, Ryan Miller will wear #39 for the Blues for the remainder of the season, it appears. Steve Ott will go back to #29 as he wore in Dallas. Chris Stewart will wear #80 for the Sabres. Jaroslav Halak will continue to wear #41 in Buffalo, but he may not be there for long. Reports out of Buffalo is that Halak might be moving back to the Central Division as the Sabres and Wild discuss a deal for the goaltender.

I'm still pretty impressed with Vinz and Tyni. For a couple of guys who thought their hockey careers would never take then to the NHL, both of them now have one NHL game to their names. That's something only a select few on this planet ever experience!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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