ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - It was a game Connor Crisp will never forget. After allowing 13 goals on 46 shots for the Erie Otters on Sunday, he was named the first star.
The 17-year-old centre was never supposed to play net, but he got pressed into action as an emergency replacement when starting goalie Ramis Sadikov was injured in the opening minutes of a 13-4 victory by the Niagara IceDogs.
"Well, I'm a road hockey goalie, ball hockey goalie, but that's the first time I've put on goalie equipment and played on ice since I was five years old," said Crisp.
The Otters dressed only one goaltender after backup Devin Williams suffered a head injury earlier this weekend in a game against Saginaw. Sadikov was knocked out just 1:45 into Sunday's game after a collision with IceDogs forward Alex Friesen, who received a five-minute major for charging and a game-misconduct on the play.
With no backup on the bench the Otters had a choice ? dress a player for the rest of the game, or forfeit.
Enter Crisp, who hadn't played in a single game this season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He had been designated as the backup goalie prior to the game, but said "not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be playing today."
Following a 20-minute delay while he donned goaltender equipment, Crisp stepped onto the ice and almost slipped, then fell while taking warmup shots ??? much to the appreciation of the Niagara fans.
"My feet are still cramped, I can hardly walk right now," said Crisp. "Rammer's skates were three times too small and not wide enough, that's probably why I couldn't skate."
The fans' admiration would soon grow.
Crisp made six saves in the first period, 12 in the second and 14 more in the third period, which culminated with a standing ovation from the crowd and first star honours.
"It was appreciated so much ??? beyond words," he said. "Honestly, it was embarrassing to let some of those goals in, but I think the IceDogs fans knew. I can't say enough about how fun and classy that was today."
Ryan Strome led the Niagara (42-17-3) attack with five goals and one assist, while Freddie Hamilton had one goal and five assists. Jesse Graham, Tom Kuhnhackl and Dougie Hamilton all added three assists in the win.
Stephan Harper and Sondre Olden both had one goal and two assists each for Erie (10-46-6). Jake Evan and Luke Cairns had the other Otters goals.
Former Otters goalie Chris Festarini made 36 stops to pick up the win for Niagara.
But it was the losing goalie who fans will remember. Crisp didn't have any family at the rink, but he said they knew what was happening.
"As soon I got on the bus I called my parents and as soon as they picked up the phone they were laughing.
"It's definitely something I will never forget."