'Regular Joe' suits up as emergency goalie in NHL game
Winnipeg’s Gavin McHale got to live the Canadian dream on Wednesday night, even if he didn’t see any real NHL action.
The 31-year-old personal trainer and goaltending coach for the University of Manitoba women’s hockey team joined the Washington Capitals for a night as their emergency backup goalie after regular starter Braden Holtby suffered a last-minute upper-body injury.
McHale, who took shots in the warmup but did not see game action, admitted he was a bit star struck at first, but told CTV News Channel on Thursday that the Capitals made him feel welcome.
“It’s a very unique situation where you get to have a regular Joe have this opportunity,” he said. “I think everyone on the team introduced themselves to me and it made what could’ve been an interesting situation a lot easier.”
McHale said he was notified the afternoon before the game that he might be needed, so he rushed to Bell MTS Place, the home of the Jets, to sign his amateur contract with the Capitals and pass a physical.
The NHL requires each home team to have an emergency goalie in the building for the game just in case, meaning occasionally non-professional goalies get to don an NHL jersey for a night.
This isn’t the first time McHale has been forced to suit up for an NHL team. Last year he dressed for the Colorado Avalanche after one of their goalies suffered an injury in the second period. He was told to stay in the dressing room for the third period, however.
“That was a pretty anti-climactic moment,” he said.
While McHale has yet to hit the ice for an NHL team during a game, he says he’s OK with staying on the bench when called upon.
“Part of you wants to skate out there in front of all those fans and get a chance to do something that every single kid wants to do in Canada, but a part of me was like ‘You know what? I’m happy with this,’” he said.
McHale is scheduled to be the Jets emergency goalie again on Friday night when they play the Buffalo Sabres.
New goalkeeper tonight, everyone! Holts is out with an upper-body injury, so @PheonixCopley will start and Gavin McHale has signed an ATO and will be suiting up for Washington! @GavinMcHale1 is the women's goaltending coach at nearby University of Manitoba. #ALLCAPS #CapsJets— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 15, 2018