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Junior forward forced to play goal for Erie Otters

by Adam Kimelman
The Erie Otters' Connor Crisp earned First Star of the game in his season debut Sunday night.
But the 17-year-old center likely never expected to earn the honor wearing a set of goalie pads.
With their goalie injured, Crisp was pressed into action Sunday against the Niagara IceDogs.
When Erie starting goalie Ramis Sadikov suffered an injury just 1:45 into Sunday's game, the Otters -- already missing their backup goalie due to injury -- were forced to come up with an emergency plan.
Crisp, who hadn't played this season due to a shoulder injury, had been designated the emergency goalie before the game. He had 5 goals in 48 games last season, his first in the OHL, and the 6-foot-2.75, 225-pounder is eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.
"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 5 years old," Crisp told Yahoo! Sports.
After a 20-minute delay to get dressed, Crisp hit the ice -- literally. Wearing Sadikov's skates, he slipped while facing warm-up shots.
"My feet are still cramped; I can hardly walk right now," Crisp said. "Rammer's skates were three times too small and not wide enough. That's probably why I couldn't skate."
Crisp's skating ability was the least of his concerns. The Otters entered the game with the fewest points in the Ontario Hockey League, and have allowed the most goals -- all of them allowed by natural goalies. And their opponent, the IceDogs, sit atop the OHL Eastern Conference standings and lead the OHL in goals.
Niagara was led Sunday by New York Islanders prospect Ryan Strome, the fifth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, who had 5 goals and an assist, and San Jose Sharks prospect Freddie Hamilton, who had a goal and 5 assists.
Crisp stopped three of six shots in the first period, which ended with Erie down only 3-2. But Niagara scored four more, on 16 shots in the second, and then put six pucks past Crisp in the first.
For the game, Crisp finished with 32 saves on 45 shots.
Knowing how difficult it must have been for Crisp, he still was voted First Star of the Game and received a standing ovation from the Niagara fans.
"It was appreciated so much -- beyond words," said Crisp. "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."
Crisp, the nephew of three-time Stanley Cup champion Terry Crisp, took the outing in stride.
"As soon I got on the bus I called my parents and as soon as they picked up the phone they were laughing," he said. "It's definitely something I will never forget."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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