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IHL Thunder Alum Curtis Joseph Remembers Vegas Fondly

The retired goalie is in town this week participating in Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

It's fun to play hockey and never lose.

It's fun to be in Las Vegas.

So needless to say, goaltender Curtis Joseph has fun memories from his brief tenure with the Las Vegas Thunder during the 1995-96 season, when he briefly suited up for the IHL club amidst an NHL contract dispute that eventually resulted in his trade from the St. Louis Blues to the Edmonton Oilers.

In town this week to participate in Wayne Gretzky's annual Fantasy Camp, Joseph reminisced about his Las Vegas hockey memories and the city's arrival in the NHL.

"It's fun when you win every night," Joseph, 49 and retired from the NHL since 2008-09, said. "What was I, 10-1, 15-1 when I played here? It's always fun to win."

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To be fair, Joseph's record in Las Vegas wasn't as prodigious as he remembered.

He was only 12-2-1, although his 1.99 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in the offense-heavy 1990s is hardly something to scoff at, even if this was a case of the fourth winningest goalie in NHL history lining up against minor leaguers.

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"I was in between jobs," Joseph said. "I needed a place to play and stay sharp. Las Vegas was a good spot, they had a good team - I didn't want to get embarrassed. And we had a lot of fun. Those are fond memories. I was here for about five weeks, I think.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: The Las Vegas Thunder are a big part of our city's hockey history. Alum Curtis Joseph remembers that team fondly������https://t.co/SMR35ellAD pic.twitter.com/R8bGg7iXZ1

 

"Chris McSorley, Marty's brother, was the coach. He was great. He was awesome. We won almost every game.

"It was something. I was living in The Luxor. They (Thunder) gave me a vehicle and a room at The Luxor. I didn't get paid or anything. I only thought I'd be there a few weeks, but I ended up being there five weeks. It was fun.

"I could always find my way home. The light stuck up. That was my landmark."

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That season was also a landmark for Las Vegas hockey.

The 1995-96 Thunder racked up the best record by any Las Vegas-based pro hockey team in the city's history, leading the IHL with a 57-17-8 record before a disappointing semifinal defeat at the hands of the eventual-champion Utah Grizzlies.

But by that time, Joseph was long gone, having re-emerged into the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers by midseason. He'd eventually enjoy subsequent stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames, en route to completing a borderline Hall of Fame career.

 

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Although only briefly a Las Vegan, his time with the Thunder left enough of an impression on Joseph for him to regularly return to the area, now in retirement.

"For sure, I come here once a year for Wayne's Fantasy Camp," Joseph said. "I look forward to it every year. I need to get out of the snow in Toronto. I might get here once or twice, other than that. I played Shadow Creek last time here -that lives up to all the hype. I need to come back to try to play that a few more times.

"And I applaud the NHL for being the first professional team out of the big four to be here. I'm excited that they're in the league. I think it's going to be great.

"I think it's going to be a huge draw."

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