No matter how much preparation goes into a live competition, there is always a chance the participants will throw a wrench in the plans.
You have to love sports.
This was the scenario at yesterday’s finals for Bud Light’s Search for the Next Paul Deutsch during the second period intermission of the Houston Aeros game. Goaltenders Treye Kettwick and Joshua Swartout were to face eight shots apiece from celebrity shooters Wes Walz, Brian Bonin, Tom Chorske and Shjon Podein. In case of a tie after the initial eight shots, there would be sudden-death overtime to determine the winner.
Last season, Deutsch’s role as emergency goalie with the Wild was born, as goaltender Niklas Backstrom attended the birth of his son on November 23. The club needed a backup for Josh Harding, who would face the Nashville Predators. The problem: Houston goaltender Matt Hackett’s flight that wouldn't arrive in the Twin Cities until shortly before puck drop, and that was barring any flight delays.
Of course, the competition bearing Deutsch’s namesake would end with a minor emergency.
The entire purpose of a hockey shootout is to determine a winner. This seemed like a natural way to determine the winner of a competition for an emergency goalie. What were the chances of us running out of time and this thing ending knotted up?
Apparently, 100 percent.
After a shaky start from both netminders, they locked in. As the clock began to tick away and the competition went to sudden death, panic started to flood over me like an ocean wave.
There was no tie tiebreaker in place.
As Swartout made the final save of the shootout on Walz, the competition had run out of its allotted between-period time.
The Zamboni’s had to get onto the ice in order for the third period to start on time; therefore we couldn’t extend the shootout. After all, the main event between the Aeros and Rockford IceHogs was heading into the final frame of a heated American Hockey League contest.
If you’ve ever seen an NHL shootout, you’ll know they rarely go into double-digit rounds before determining a winner. On Sunday night, the hockey gods – even for a between-period goalie competition – needed more time to establish the winner.
I’m sure the fans, a majority of whom stuck around during the intermission to watch the competition, were as confused as I was on what would happen next.
In the tunnel underneath the stands, I met with Wild communications staff Aaron Sickman, Ryan Stanzel, Carly Peters, coordinator of events Jim Vanek and Deutsch.
It would be unfair to ask the goalies to stay in their gear for the entire third period, waiting around till after the game to take more shots. Flipping a coin was out of the question. We couldn’t let them draw straws. The winner had to be determined with a competition. The only logical thing would be to postpone naming the winner and have another competition, one that will not run out of time.
Walz graciously agreed to deliver the message to the two goaltenders, both on adrenaline highs from the shootout, and they agreed on the plan to come back at a later date and finish this once and for all.
Kettwick and Swartout, along with the nine other goaltenders who were invited to tryout on Thursday, were great to work with throughout the process. WildTV will have a behind-the-scenes look at the competition on Friday, the anniversary of Paul Deutsch’s dream day with the Wild.
After putting them through the paces in the preliminary tryout and watching them both compete, and handle themselves after the competition, Wild Goaltending Coach Bob Mason thought either goalie would make a fine emergency goaltender for the Wild.
When we can plan for a competition with no chance of ending in a tie.