Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Saved By Spriggs

The man sitting to the left in the #60 Colorado Avalanche jersey is emergency backup netminder Byron Spriggs. Spriggs, a former Manitoba Bisons netminder and newest coach on the Bisons men's team's coaching staff, has worn a few different jerseys as the emergency netminder while teams visit Winnipeg. I'm not certain how often other teams have their emergency goalie pressed into action, but it seems that Spriggs has gotten his fair share of jerseys from AHL teams to go along with his newest NHL jersey.

If you missed the news, Pavel Francouz was injured less than one minute into the game between the visiting Colorado Avalanche and the Winnipeg Jets, prompting back-up netminder Adam Werner to take to the nets. Without a goalie to back Werner up, Byron Spriggs was called into action as the emergency back-up netminder. And that's how the image above was captured.

The most recent AHL jersey Spriggs added to his collection was that of the Manitoba Moose after Spriggs was signed by the club in March last season. While he didn't see any ice time with the Moose while they were in Colorado, Spriggs earned himself a jersey as the back-up to Ken Appleby for that March 22 game that the Moose won 2-0 over the Eagles, and the Moose invited him to training camp this season as seen to the right. It would be hard for most young goalies to supplant Mikhail Berdin in the Moose net, and Spriggs was ultimately cut by the Moose. It's clear he made a good impression over the last couple of seasons as True North Sports and Entertainment has kept him on as the emergency netminder as we saw tonight.

Just a week prior to getting his Moose jersey, the AHL's Texas Stars were in Manitoba when they were plagued by goaltender injuries. Spriggs inked a contract that guaranteed he would be in uniform on March 15 as the Stars played the Moose in Winnipeg, and he would back up Philippe Desrosiers in a 5-4 overtime win by the Stars.

If you're keeping track at home, Spriggs wore #1 with the Stars one week before wearing #35 with the Moose, and followed that up by wearing #60 with Colorado in the same calendar year. Has there ever been a netminder who wore three different numbers in one calendar year? I don't recall that happening, but I also didn't look very deep into it. If you know of one, post his name in the comments below!

March is a good month for Spriggs when it comes to suiting up in the AHL as he got a chance to be the back-up netminder behind Daniel Altshuller for the Charlotte Checkers on March 9, 2017 after the Checkers acquired Tom McCollum at the trade deadline, but his gear didn't arrive in Winnipeg in time for the game between the Checkers and Moose on that date. With the Checkers needing a back-up, they turned to Spriggs who signed an amateur tryout contract for the day and sat as the back-up to Altshuller as Charlotte went on to win that game by a 4-3 score.

I don't want to point out the obvious, but Byron Spriggs is now 4-0 as a back-up netminder as he's been part of wins with all four teams for which he's dressed after the Avalanche dismissed the Jets by a 4-0 score tonight! That's a rather cool statistic that Spriggs may want to boast about when it comes to his spot duty for teams. I don't know if it's just good luck, teams responding to their goaltending woes, or another factor, but Spriggs might have the best record of any emergency goaltender in hockey right now!

It's always fun to see a guy you know getting a shot at glory, even if it's only for one game. Byron Spriggs is a phenomenal guy, and that smile he wore for the majority of the game tonight is the same smile you see him with on a daily basis. Congratulations on that amazing record as well, Byron.

If you needed proof, Byron Spriggs is evidence that good things do indeed happen to good people.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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