Canucks turn to college goaltender as emergency backup vs. Blues

Puck Daddy
Matt Hewitt of UBC
Matt Hewitt of UBC

University of British Columbia goaltender Matt Hewitt will back up Vancouver Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom in the team’s Tuesday home game against the St. Louis Blues.

UBC first tweeted that Hewitt, a New Westminster, British Columbia native, will indeed dress with the Canucks.

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Ryan Miller skated in the morning, but coach Willie Desjardins said Miller was “tight” and wouldn’t start. He said Miller could back up health permitting, which is not the case.

CBC explained the details of how Hewitt found himself preparing for an NHL game: 

UBC coach Sven Butenschon said Canucks’ goalie coach Dan Cloutier phoned him to ask if Hewitt was available. Butenschon then called Hewitt to give him the good news.

“Hewie said to me, ‘coach, this is my dream come true,'” said Butenschon.

This isn’t the first time the Canucks have called on a college goaltender to be their backup.

Chris Levesque of UBC backed up Johan Hedberg in a 2003 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after Cloutier was injured at morning skate. When Hedberg took a first period collision with Konstantin Koltsov it seemed Levesque would have to jump in. But Hedberg didn’t leave the game and Levesque stayed on the bench.

In 2013 the team signed University of Calgary goaltender Dustin Butler after Cory Schneider was too ill to play on a road trip. The Canucks also signed 42-year-old Rob Laurie as an emergency backup for a game at Anaheim in 2014.

This specific issue hasn’t just happened to Vancouver at their home arena. The San Jose Sharks used UBC goaltender Jordan White as an emergency backup in 2011 after Antero Nittymaki went down with a lower body issue at morning skate.

A lot of NHL teams based in the Pacific Division have moved their AHL affiliates closer to the West Coast to avoid these issues. The Canucks have yet to do this. Vancouver’s AHL team is based in Utica, New York and a goaltender may not have been able to arrive in time to back up Markstrom on short notice.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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