24-year-old Sherwood Park native Kurtis Mucha was having just a regular day when he got a call that would change his plans for tonight.
Little did Mucha know that the Edmonton Oilers would soon trade goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild for a 4th round pick, giving the team a need for an emergency backup for their game against the Ottawa Senators.
Mucha, the goaltender for the University of Alberta Golden Bears, would be that guy.
“It was just a normal day for me,” Mucha said. “I actually had a dentist appointment at 8:30 and went to class at 11. That’s when I got the call from Ian Herbers, my coach there, and he said the Oilers had stuff in the works and if a trade happened, I was probably going to get to back up. Lo and behold, I ended up getting on the bench there so it was pretty cool.”
Mucha is no stranger to ‘getting the call’. The Boston Bruins needed an extra goalie for practice during their trip to Edmonton earlier this season and called upon the young netminder for help. However, putting on the orange and blue and sitting on the bench during an NHL game was something special.
“Really special,” Mucha said. “I just kind of, soaked it all in. These guys got a game to win so you just kind of stay out of their way and not to get to be too much of a distraction and let them do their job. But I tried to interact with them as well and kind of help on the bench and keep them alert and stuff like that.”
Having taken shots from the Bruins before, the warmup skate didn’t quite phase him, however it was the end of the game where things set in for Mucha.
“Just at the end of the game, when everybody in the crowd is cheering in a full barn of 17,000 people, or whatever it is, it’s pretty surreal to kind of look around and just take it all in. It was pretty cool.”
Head Coach Dallas Eakins says the team welcomed Mucha with open arms and helped make it a special day for him.
“I welcomed him,” Eakins said. “I said, don’t be shy in the dressing room and use all parts of it. When you get somebody in the room like that, they just go sit in their stall. They don’t move very far. They’re usually very intimidated but we’ve got good guys in our room and they welcomed him with open arms. I didn’t go out for warmup but I’m sure he had the butterflies going in that net for sure.”