Inspiring junior hockey goalie gives up 13 goals but is still named game’s top star

Cameron Smith
March 7, 2012

When does a goalie allow a shocking 13 goals, watch his team lose 13-4 and still walk out as the game's first star? When he's not even supposed to be the goalie, of course.

Erie Otters center and emergency goaltender Connor Crisp — Joel Smith Photography
Erie Otters center and emergency goaltender Connor Crisp — Joel Smith Photography

As reported by a variety of sources, Yahoo! Canada's Buzzing the Net blog chief among them, Erie Otters forward Connor Crisp, who has sat out the entire Ontario Hockey League season with a shoulder injury, was forced to play goalie for nearly an entire OHL game. His time in the crease was brought on by an early injury to the Otters' lone healthy goaltender, Ramis Sadikov, just two minutes into the team's game against the Niagara IceDogs in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Crisp wasn't a complete goalie novice -- the 17-year-old has played as a goalie in roller hockey -- but he hadn't skated on the ice as a goalie since he was 5. Compounding things was the fact that the Otters didn't have any goalie skates that would fit the forward, so he had to either squeeze his feet into Sadikov's custom narrow skates or risk wearing regular skates.

If he failed to do either of those things, the Otters would have to forfeit.

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That wasn't going to happen on Crisp's watch, so the forward threw on Sadikov's skates, spent 20 minutes putting on his goalie gear and then slowly half-skated, half-walked his way out to the crease he would defend.

"Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be playing today," Crisp told the AP. "My feet are still cramped, I can hardly walk right now. Rammer's skates were three times too small and not wide enough. That's probably why I couldn't skate."

Even though he couldn't skate, Crisp had to play. What followed was excruciating at first, and then inspiring by the end. According to the Associated Press, Crisp made six saves in the first period, then 12 in the second as he got his legs underneath him. Finally, in the third period the goalie stopped 14 shots.

How impressed were home fans of the visiting goalie's effort? So impressed that they gave Crisp a standing ovation, clapping him off the ice and then immediately voting him as the game's top star.

"It was appreciated so much -- beyond words," Crisp told the AP. "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.

"I have so much respect for goalies now. By the end of the second period my feet were just killing me," he added to Buzzing the Net's Neate Sager.

Incredibly, Crisp's instant fame didn't stop at game's end, either. According to Buzzing the Net, the Otters star's name trended on Twitter locally during his goalie appearance, and the Otters have been quick to take advantage of his fame, offering up a limited edition charity T-shirt bearing his name and his temporary goalie jersey of number 1, with proceeds from the shirt going to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

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Still, Crisp seemed most relieved that the entire incident was in the past, and that he could get back to doing what he does best: trying to score goals rather than stop them. The center's shoulder felt well enough after his outing in goal to encourage him to begin practicing in hopes of playing in his traditional forward's role.

That's only fitting. After all, no matter how heroic a forward's unexpected game in goal might be, giving up 13 goals is the kind of afternoon that just about anyone would be happy to put behind them.

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