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Weekes, Fast look back on the NHL's last tie

by Adam Kimelman
Look back at the historic goals in NHL history, and there's Wayne Gretzky's 802nd, Bobby Orr's flying goal to win the 1970 Stanley Cup and Patrick Kane's overtime goal to give the Blackhawks the 2010 Stanley Cup.

And then there's Brad Fast. Never heard of him? Don't feel bad -- the 31-year-old journeyman defenseman played just one NHL game, with the Carolina Hurricanes, on the final day of the 2003-04 season, against the Florida Panthers.

He scored in that game, making him one of just four players in NHL history to score in their only NHL game. Dean Morton with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1989-90 season, Rolly Huard with the 1930-31 Toronto Maple Leafs and Raymie Skilton with the 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers are the others.

What makes Fast's goal stand out, however, was that it was the final decisive game-tying goal in the NHL.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the final tie game in League history -- April 4, 2004.

It was a wild game, one that saw the Hurricanes take a 4-0 first-period lead, followed by six straight by the Panthers that put Florida up 6-4 four minutes into the third period. Eric Staal scored to bring the Hurricanes back within one with 4:56 left.

As game ticked down, Fast joined forwards Rod Brind'Amour and Erik Cole on a rush.

"I tried joining the rush, but nothing happened," Fast recalled during an appearance on NHL Live! on Monday. "So I went back and circled low. Brind'Amour fed me the puck, I kicked it up to my stick, and I think it hit something in front and beat (Roberto) Luongo up high."

Fast only had been called up from AHL Lowell the night before, and was running on hope and nervous energy.

"I was playing in Lowell the night before, a Saturday night," Fast told "After the game I got called into the coach's office and he asked if I was feeling all right, and I said yes. Then he said you have to play tomorrow afternoon down in Florida. That night I took my stuff home from the rink, got up early, caught the first flight down and made it to the hotel after everybody had their pregame meals. I tried to get a little nap in, but that wasn't happening."

Paired mostly with Sean Hill, Fast was a plus-1 with four shots in 21:24 of ice time. He couldn't get any of his family down to Florida from Fort St. John, B.C., but they were able to follow along on the Internet.

"It was tough to get that game on TV for my family," he said. "We knew someone that had the game and taped it for us at the time. Most people got to watch it after the fact. They got to see highlights of the goal, but not the game."

It was a memorable game for Fast, and also for Kevin Weekes, who was the goaltender of record for the Hurricanes. Weekes entered the game in relief of Arturs Irbe with 13:37 left in the third period and the Hurricanes down 6-4.

The amount of time left in the game plays a major role in Weekes' recollection of that day.

"I had a huge bonus -- a six-figure bonus -- riding on that game," Weekes told NHL Live!

Instead, Weekes sat -- on his birthday, no less -- and watched Irbe and Luongo battle it out.

"We went up 4-love on Florida ... next thing you know they made it 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, and they're looking at me on the bench, are you going in," said Weekes. "I only needed 20 minutes played, and (Irbe) was looking at me and I was looking at coach (Paul) Maurice to see if he was going to put me in and no dice. We come out for the third and they scored, it's 5-4, next thing they score again and it's 6-4. We wait until the TV time out and (Maurice) said Weeksie, you're going in. It's 13:37 (left) -- now bear in mind I need 20 minutes.

"Next thing you know we score one, we score another one, we tie the game up, the game goes to overtime. Play the full five minutes of overtime, ends up being 18 and change (18:37), and we tie the game 6-6. I'm pumped, we got this tied."

After the game, Weekes called his agent, Paul Theofanous.

"I thought I was still getting my bonus," Weekes said. "I asked Theo, 'I'm still getting my bonus, right?' He said no. I said, 'I'm not going to get my bonus for one minute and change?' He said, 'Sorry that's not the way it works.'"

Weekes, now an analyst for the NHL Network and CBC, can laugh about the incident, and while he's adamant in saying he should have started that day -- or least been in net at the start of the third -- he holds no ill will toward Maurice.

"He's the best coach I played for in the NHL," he said, and then with a chuckle added, "The better question is am I on speaking terms with (Carolina GM) Jimmy Rutherford."

Weekes' career continued for another four seasons, two with the New York Rangers and two with the New Jersey Devils. Fast, however, had his NHL story begin and end on the same day. He split the next two seasons between the AHL and ECHL, then played in Switzerland, Germany and Austria between 2006 and 2008. He spent the last three seasons playing in the Asia League of Hockey with Anyang Halla, based in South Korea.

When his season ended in Korea, however, Fast decided to put away his skates. He's living again in East Lansing, Mich., where he spent four seasons playing for Michigan State (1999-2003), and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Training hockey players remains an option.

Whatever he does, he's happy with his place in history, even if it was his only shot at The Show.

"I got one game and maybe some people would have wanted more, but my one game was a great experience," said Fast. "It's something I can always look back on. I was really happy to get that one opportunity. Would have loved to have more, but I'm definitely happy with the one I got."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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