CALGARY, AB -- A three-hour drive down the QE2 was well worth the 40 minutes spent as a member of the Calgary Flames.
With goaltender Jonas Hiller still recovering from a sickness that turfed him from practice just 15 minutes into reps Wednesday, Flames goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet rung up former pupil Luke Siemens to serve as his replacement at morning skate in advance of a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
The tender from the University of Alberta Golden Bears didn’t hesitate to jump in a car and make the trek down from Edmonton.
“I got a text yesterday from Jordan and he said that they needed a goalie,” said Siemens, who has an 11-3-1 record with a 1.90 GAA and .918 save percentage in 15 games of Canada West action this season. “That’s really all that he said. I told our coach and GM and told them that I was going to be away from practice today. They were okay with it, so I headed down.”
Two hundred and ninety seven kilometers later, Siemens was facing shots from the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan.
All under the watchful eye of his former coach.
“He was pretty excited,” Sigalet said. “I told him I could get someone else and he told me to hold off a bit. I had him in Everett my first year of coaching and he’s a worker. He battles, works hard, and he was really excited for the opportunity. I’m glad that I could give it too him.”
Sigalet was goaltending coach of the Everett Silvertips from 2010-11, when Siemens played 23 of his 146 Western Hockey League games.
The pair has stayed in touch since.
“He’s a good kid and sometimes in the summer still, when I go back to Vancouver, he reaches out to me to get on the ice and get some work in,” Sigalet said. “Ever since we left there, we’ve stayed in touch and continued to work together.”
Sigalet’s tried to work with Siemens in Calgary before.
The 23-year-old Business major hasn’t had the chance until now.
“I went to him right away because I’ve asked him other times and he couldn’t make it and he was disappointed,” Sigalet said. “Other times I’ve used local guys who are out of the game for a while, so it’s nice to give to chance to a young guy that’s still trying to prove himself.”
Siemens is trying to prove himself in the classroom, too.
He took off after the skate to head back up to Edmonton, where he a midterm in a 300-level marketing class Friday and another in 300-level accounting Saturday.
It’s why Siemens himself didn’t take the wheel to get down to Calgary on Thursday morning.
Nor will he be in the driver’s seat on the jaunt back to campus.
“I got someone to drive me so I have some extra time to study,” he said.
“I have a final tomorrow morning at 8:15. By the time I get home at 4 o’clock today, I’ll have about five hours of studying and then sleep. Then a final, then study, and then the next one.”