Tom Hodges’ life changed in the Anaheim Ducks’ regular season finale on Friday night against the Dallas Stars. After injuries to the two goaltenders at the top of the Ducks’ two-deep depth chart (John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz), life insurance salesman was fielded as an EBUG, or emergency goalkeeper, in the final period.
I’ve bolded his occupation for a variety of reasons, mostly to emphasize how out of left field it is and also to make sure we have the correct information on what precisely this hero does for a living.
Despite allowing a goal in the 4-2 loss, Hodges made two saves!! And that concession came on the power play, so Hodges, to paraphrase his own words, didn’t embarrass himself too much there. The Stars veered into an empty net with a minute to go to make the scoreline more lopsided than it looked.
Now for the coolest part. He was so completely relatable when discussing the experience afterwards. It’s the classic Everyman cast in an extraordinary set of circumstances that makes it one of the greatest narrative fictions.
Color me impressed. But my favorite bit was the next clip where he talks about how his transient teammates managed to calm him down as he battled internally, on the verge of a panic attack before taking ice cream at the American Airlines Center in Dallas:
It’s the same arena where the NBA’s Mavericks and Luka Doncic won playoffs games lately. Like just thinking how wild it is for a second. Oh, and the Stars will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs themselves, so they weren’t the easiest opponent to face. Dallas needed the two points from a win to keep any hopes of staying ahead of Nashville for the top spot in the Wild Card.
And how’s that for another twist:
WHO IS THIS MAN!?
Look at how elegant the Stars were towards Hodges too:
Wholesome hockey content here. A lot of people like a good fight, sure, but this is something special. I couldn’t be more impressed with everyone around.
Hodges’ cameo marked only the fourth time in NHL history when an emergency goalie saw the action in a game, from what I could dig up. Even though it’s a little off base, it’s RARE as the hell that it is already arrived. It’s something you can’t prepare for. Usually it just means that a goalkeeper is dressing. This is why they are labeled as an “emergency” backup.
Well done, Tom Hodges. You are a fucking champion.
While Ducks fans must be disappointed with the club’s late-season collapse after a promising start in which they led the NHL in record against the puck line for some time, it’s a human-interest story. comforting to take a bit of the sting out of it all. Plus, at least you still have Trevor Zegras scoring goals and lacrosse-style stuff.