Sunday, 25 April 2021

Next Man Up

It isn't often that we get to see NHL teams scramble mid-game for a replacement goalie, but the action last night resulted in two teams - one in the NHL and one in the AHL - needing goalies in a pinch. With fans limited in nearly all arenas, the Emergency Back-Up Goalie, or EBUG, was called off this season for pandemic reasons and because teams are carrying a taxi squad. The question becomes what does a team do if the taxi squad doesn't have a goalie on it or if, in the AHL's case, there is no taxi squad to call upon in an emergency?

We'll start in the NHL where a familiar face in the lineup was spotted in a rather unfamiliar place midway through the game. In the Ottawa-Vancouver game yesterday evening, Ottawa starting netminder Anton Forsberg was injured while warming up before the game, forcing the Senators to turn to Matt Murray while quickly dressing Marcus Hogberg as the back-up netminder prior to the start of the game.

When Murray was injured in the second period, the Senators brought Hogberg in to protect the net, leaving the backup netminder's seat empty. As you're aware, the NHL requires teams to have a dressed back-up netminder, so the Senators went back to the pressbox where they chose forward Artem Anisimov as their new backup netminder!

One would likely expect the Senators to turn to a goalie coach before throwing a non-goaltender into an NHL net, but Senators head coach DJ Smith explained that new goalie coach Zac Bierk wasn't an option.

"We didn't have anyone left," Smith explained after the game. "A lot of people would think Zac Bierk, the goalie coach played in the NHL but he had three hip surgeries, he's got a bad ear from a shot in the head as a player so he's not an option. So we really didn't have anyone left."

Down to the locker room went Anisimov where he got assistance in getting all the goalie gear on, but the 32 year-old wasn't needed by the Senators for the remainder of the game for which he likely was thankful. Hogberg finished the game with Anisimov fully dressed in the locker room area where he stretched and got a little more limber in case he was needed despite coming to the rink thinking he had the night off. Again, it's not often that a team would want a position player to ever be thrust into action in a position that he doesn't play, but the Senators needed a goalie and Anisimov was a good sport about helping his team in this emergency situation. And to be honest, he actually looks like he could be a goalie based on how he's standing in all that gear!

The Senators returned to the dressing room post-game to find the still-dressed Anisimov waiting for them in full gear which got some good laughs out of the players. With the Senators dropping the 4-2 decision to the Canucks, Anisimov's new look might have been the perfect remedy for the tension that the players felt after a loss. I wouldn't expect Ottawa to dress him as a goalie any time in the future, though!

If you're looking for a jersey cameo, Anisimov normally wears #51 for the Senators, but he was assigned #32 as a goalie! Watch for "#32 Anisimov" jerseys in the future by Senators fans!

The other incident saw the AHL's Henderson Silver Knights visiting the San Diego Gulls last night where things got a little crazy for the Silver Knights. Logan Thompson, the former Brock University and Brandon Wheat Kings netminder, was ruled out of the game last night prior to the AHL contest, meaning the Silver Knights were down to one netminder while on the road with Oskar Dansk travelling with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights' taxi squad.

The change pushed Jiri Patera into the crease for the Silver Knights, but they needed back-up netminder. And for that player, they got a guy with a little experience under his belt when they turned to former NHL netminder and current Henderson goaltending coach Fred Brathwaite!

The 48 year-old Brathwaite donned equipment and wore his old Atlanta Thrashers mask as he took the ice for a professional hockey game for the first time since 2011-12 when he last suited up for the DEL's Adler Mannheim. His last NHL action was in 2003-04 when he played with the Columbus Blue Jackets while his last North American game was in 2007-08 with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Needless to say, there were some surprised folks when Brathwaite stepped onto the ice in San Diego with the image above capturing Brathwaite chatting with 21-year-old Anaheim Ducks goaltending prospect Olle Eriksson Ek!

Like Anisimov, Brathwaite didn't see any action in the game last night between the Silver Knights and Gulls, and the Gulls went on to win the game by a 4-1 score. According to the boxscore, Brathwaite wore #34 for this game, so perhaps we'll see a few "#34 Brathwaite" jerseys at some point as well? One can only hope as jersey cameos are awesome!

The good news is that Oscar Dansk is back in Henderson today as the Gulls host the Silver Knights once again, and Dansk did get the start today. Freddy Brathwaite can return to his comfy seat high above the ice and not have to worry about muscle pulls or stopping pucks tonight.

How cool is it that we got two EBUG situations in two different leagues on the same night? Honestly, EBUG situations make the game fun, and I would love to see more of them. I know NHL and AHL teams don't share that sentiment, but it's a fun piece of the game that always adds excitement when it comes into play! Viva the EBUG!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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