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Ferguson trying to enjoy every moment he has with Golden Knights

Goaltender received unexpected call-up from Kamloops of WHL to back up Lagace

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- It's easy to spot the odd man out on the Vegas Golden Knights. Just look at the mask, the one that's not painted with the black and gold of the NHL's newest team, but instead is blue and orange, with "Blazers" inscribed on the front.

While Dylan Ferguson's equipment doesn't match the rest of his teammates, his jersey does. For the moment.

It still amazes him, the surreal set of events that have led him to where he finds himself now, a baby-faced 19-year-old goaltender on the roster of an NHL club just days after he was ordering dinner at Boston Pizza in Kamloops, British Columbia.

His Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League had practiced Monday, and afterward Ferguson had been part of a group of teammates that had gone out for food.

His mind was elsewhere, though, as he monitored the game between the Golden Knights and the New York Islanders. As he watched, his future changed.

Oscar Dansk, the third-string goaltender for the Golden Knights, exited the game in the second period, replaced by Maxime Lagace, another goaltender who isn't supposed to be in the NHL right now. Ferguson knew the organization had five goaltenders under contract. Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and Malcolm Subban (lower body) already were out because of injuries.

Video: VGK@VAN: Ferguson stones Archibald on breakaway

As Dansk left the ice because of a lower-body injury, Ferguson knew what that might mean.

"It ran through my head pretty quick that I might be getting a call if the other guys aren't ready yet," he said. "A couple minutes later I got a call from the team that I was on a plane in two hours. I was in New York the [next] night, so it was a rush. But it was the best rush I've ever had."

It was, he said, "the fastest I've ever moved in my life, I think."

Ferguson left so quickly that after cancelling his wings order, he paid for dinner for the rest of his teammates rather than take the time to split the bill. Call it his first big NHL-player purchase.

He got on an 8:30 p.m. PT flight out of Kamloops on Monday, had a layover in Vancouver, then hopped on a redeye to Toronto, arriving at 6 a.m. ET on Tuesday, before a final leg that brought him to New York at 9:30 a.m. He arrived at his hotel at 11 a.m., after nearly 12 hours of travel.

But he wasn't tired. He was in the NHL. There was no time to be tired.

He was the backup goaltender for the 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, a loss that was Lagace's first NHL start. As a pair they had exactly 25:10 of NHL experience, all of which belonged to Lagace from when he had replaced Dansk one night earlier.

"It's been very emotional," Lagace said. "A lot of unexpected events took place within the last two weeks. But I had to be ready."

Ready to play. Ready to learn. Ready to take as much out of the opportunity as possible.

Lagace's second start came against the Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday. He made 26 saves in a 2-1 loss but earned praise from his teammates and his coach, Gerard Gallant. And Lagace also was happy with his performance, saying he felt, "very good. I thought I was pretty calm in net, felt confident. I thought I was aggressive on pucks."

Lagace should get another opportunity when the Golden Knights play the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday (2 p.m. ET; TVA Sports2, TSN5, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV). For the moment, it appears to be his net, at least until Fleury or Subban or Dansk returns.

Ferguson, meanwhile, is happy enough to just be in the room right now. He was recalled on an emergency basis, meaning as soon as one of the other goaltenders is healthy, he will be sent back to Kamloops.

Long after the rest of his new teammates had exited the ice, then the dressing room, after the morning skate Thursday, bound for lunch and a gameday nap, Ferguson stayed on the ice practicing. Still facing shots. Still embracing every second he had as a member of an NHL team.

"As a kid growing up this was my dream," he said. "And just to take a look at the jersey and see that NHL [logo], that's something I still dream about. I can't even believe I'm here, really. It still feels [like] my dream is to dress up with an NHL team. But I'm living it right now, and so I've just got to soak it all in with the chance I get here."

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