It not often we find a save of the year candidate in August, but (a) the month’s nearly over and (b) Leland Irving just made one for Jokerit Helsinki in its European Trophy game against HIFK on Friday.
This wild save happened on a deflected shot by a HIFK player entering the attacking zone. Irving was ready for the initial shot, and then sprung up with his glove in the air to play the puck like an outfield would shag a fly ball.
The puck sailed over him and was headed for the back of the crease when Irving reached back and made a ‘basket catch’ save with his glove. (Willie Mays would be proud.)
Alas, he couldn’t hold onto the puck, swatting it back in front of the goal where Irving had to make yet another save as the HIFK forwards stormed the crease.
If Irving’s name sounds familiar, he had two cups of coffee with the Calgary Flames, including six games last season. "In my opinion, Leland is the best goalie the Flames have under contract, not including Kiprusoff," his agent Ritch Winter told the Calgary Herald last May.
Irving was unsigned as a free agent by Calgary, despite being a first-round pick in 2006.
He went to Finland on a “probation” contract with Jokerit, a.k.a. a month-long tryout for a job. So yeah, a save like this is a pretty good thing for a guy stating his case.
s/t Simon Akkanen