ST. JOHN’S, NL – It was not a regular weekend of hockey for local senior hockey goaltender Doug Pippy.
The 22 year-old St. John’s native was prepping for a Saturday night game with the Southern Shore Puglisevich Breakers of the Avalon East Senior Hockey League (AESHL) when his phone rang.
On the phone was the Director of Hockey Operations for the St. John’s IceCaps, Brad Andrews.
I got a call a few hours before my own senior game saying they [Lehigh Valley Phantoms] might need someone for the following evening but it wasn’t 100 percent [known] yet. Later that evening I got a call back saying that they were going to use me.
The Phantoms had run into a goaltending situation and were in need of a goaltender to dress versus the IceCaps Sunday afternoon. Starting goaltender Rob Zepp was recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers after Saturday night’s win versus St. John’s which had left back-up rookie net minder Anthony Stolarz as the sole goaltender. The Phantoms needed a back-up.
Pippy, a Police Studies and Psychology student at Memorial University, is no stranger to the IceCaps and was a quick call away.
Over the past couple of summers he had skated with local pro players such as Ryane Clowe (New Jersey Devils) and Zach O’Brien (Manchester Monarchs). It was at these skating opportunities that he met IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray. Jaffray, who has has been playing professional hockey since the 2002 – 2003 season, comes back to Newfoundland earlier than most of the IceCaps after the off-season and was looking for a skate this past summer.
After getting to know Jason I mentioned to him if the IceCaps were ever in need of someone for practice I would certainly come up. Sure enough he got me up a few times to skate with them, which was awesome for him to do.
When Pippy received the call about the opportunity to suit up for an AHL game, he was ecstatic.
[I was] thrilled! I couldn’t believe I had this opportunity! I was kind of in disbelief it was happening until I showed up at the rink.
It was one of the coolest things I have ever done. As we all know Newfoundland has some amazing hockey fans and Mile One gets pretty loud during the IceCaps games so being on the other side of it this time was pretty surreal.
Warm up was really fun. For this to happen in St. John’s made it even more special as I could have a few friends and family in the stands. I just really tried to soak it all in. It will be something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Although he was not dressed for his local professional hockey team, like every kid’s dream, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms made Pippy’s short experience with their organization very professional and welcoming.
Both the coaching staff and players were very friendly and professional. They made me feel welcome immediately. Everyone introduced themselves to me and told me how much they appreciated me coming out. Which was weird, because I felt like they were doing me a favour and giving me a special experience. I even got to participate in their player meetings.
The room with the players was like any other team I’ve been on. Just a bunch of close-knit guys who love the game and love being with the boys. They had a pretty loose atmosphere in the room, which seemed to pay off for them this weekend with two wins.
After the game Pippy was once again surprised by the Phantoms players.
The players actually invited me out for a meal after the game, which was awesome. You would think a lot of guys wouldn’t really care that I was there because I was only filling in but they welcomed me into their room.
They were a great bunch of people and I really appreciated what they did for me.
No Stranger to Local Hockey
Pippy led the Avalon Capitals of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League (SJJHL) to first place in the SJJHL 2013-2014 season and capped the season off by winning the league championship. He was named the Jungle Jim’s Player of the Game for the Championship in which the Capitals won 3-2 with nine seconds remaining in overtime.
There have been several instances where emergency back-up goaltenders have been called to fill in for a hockey club. Here are a few of the most interesting:
- Paul Deutsch, a 51 year-old recreational hockey player, was an emergency back-up for the Minnesota Wild on November 23rd, 2013.
- In 2008, Brett Leonhardt, the producer of the Washington Capitals website, suited up for the ‘Caps after goalie Jose Theodore was hurt during the morning skate.
- In March of 2010 a University of Calgary drama student by the name of Nathan Deobald was named the second-string goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers for a match versus the Vancouver Canucks after Oilers G Devan Dubynk was diagnosed with infectious gastrointestinal disorder. Debold had little more professional experience than Deutsch and Leonhardt; he was a goaltender with the U of C Dinos in the CIS.
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