Joshua Swartout was there to see how close 51-year-old Paul Duetsch got to suiting up for the Minnesota Wild last season.
Swartout was one shootout away from having the same chance Sunday, but it is going take at least two.
Swartout, a 24-year-old from St. Louis Park, Minn., and Treye Kettwick, a 29-year-old from Minneapolis, were named the finalists in the Wild's contest searching for its new emergency goaltender.
They took part in a celebrity shootout during the second intermission of the game Sunday between the Houston Aeros and Rockford IceHogs at Xcel Energy Center. After 12 rounds, the goalie duel was called a draw, and both agreed to return for a second engagement at a future date to be determined.
Last season, Duetsch almost served in that role due to a unique series of events surrounding Minnesota's game against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 23.
"The only reason I knew the Wild used an emergency goaltender was because I was at the game last season where the team had to call up Paul Deutsch," Swartout, a former goalie for Gustavus Adolphus College, told the school's website. "I was sitting in the stands thinking, 'This is a 51-year old beer league goalie that gets called up to [the] show for one game … how sweet is that.'"
Swartout told the website his girlfriend entered him in the Wild contest, which was held Thursday.
He and Kettwick, a former goaltender for Army (West Point), were among 11 contenders, a group that included 29-year-old Amy Jones of Brooklyn Center, Minn. During a 90-minute session, they were judged by Deutsch, Wild goalie coach Bob Mason, and Wild TV analyst and former NHL goalie Mike Greenlay.
"We did a little skating at the start and then went into a lot of lateral movement and goalie-specific shooting drills," Swartout said. "It was fun to mingle with and hear feedback from Bob, Mike, and also Paul Deutsch. Paul was a great guy to talk to and it was awesome to hear about his experience last year."
Matt Hackett was playing for the Aeros, the Wild's AHL team. But the first available flight wouldn't get him to Minnesota until right before the start of the game at the very earliest.
So the Wild turned to Deutsch, who owns a screen-printing company in Richfield, Minn., and moonlights as a men's-league goalie. Deutsch is a friend of former Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsay and had participated in Wild practices.
Deutsch signed an amateur tryout agreement contract and took the ice for pregame warmups. He never saw action in the game, though, because Hackett arrived just before the puck dropped.
His contract prevents Deutsch from serving again as an emergency goalie, so the Wild used the contest to find his replacement.
"To be honest, I haven’t been playing goalie for a while, so I just went into this thinking why not go out and have a good time," said Swartout, who helps coach the girls high school team in St. Louis Park. "I had a good feeling through the tryout, but it’s all still a blur and I was just in and enjoying the moment."