NHL backup for a night
He has started every game for the University of B.C. (UBC) Thunderbirds this season.
But for goaltender Jordan White, the most memorable game of the season will be the one where he sat as a backup.
The Surrey Minor Hockey product was on the bench for the San Jose Sharks last Thursday (Jan. 20) at Rogers Arena for their National Hockey League game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Antero Nittymaki, who usually plays behind San Jose starter Antti Niemi, was injured during the pre-game skate the day of the game. Without time to fly in a replacement, the Sharks called over to UBC, asking for a fill-in.
“The coach (Milan Dragocevic) called me into his office at practice, and told me what was going on,” Jordan said. “He actually offered my services to them before he even asked me.”
White was quickly signed to a one-day amateur tryout contract – which meant he would not get paid for the game – and a few hours later was on his way to the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver to meet the Sharks.
“The players were great, they just told me to relax, have fun. And I did,” said White. “I spent most of the warmup just looking around. When I was stretching, I looked down and saw (Canuck goalie Roberto) Luongo, and watched the Sedins (Henrik and Daniel) pass the puck around.”
Other than a few minutes in the warmup, White never saw the ice during the contest. He knew in advance he would only play if Niemi was injured and unable to continue, but unlike many nervous goaltenders in his position, he was ready to jump at the chance.
“I would have loved to have gone in, I would have relished the opportunity,” he said. “But it didn’t happen. (Alex) Burrows fell on Niemi and I wondered, but he got up pretty quick.”
Not nervous about playing in the NHL, White was a little more apprehensive about doing a nationally televised post-game interview on TSN.
“I’ve been playing hockey for a while, and at every level there’s the same routine you go through,” said White. “Doing TV is different, trying to hear the questions through an ear-piece, making sure you don’t mumble. It’s different than when I was in Junior and we’d do the quick radio hit.”
White, who has a 9-7-4 (won-lost-overtime loss) record with the Thunderbirds, did learn something from his brief stint in the professional ranks.
“All the players are really calm, both the veterans and the younger guys,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t go the right way, nobody gets too down. They keep an even keel, nobody gets too high, nobody gets too low.
“And they always look like they’re having fun. That’s different than a lot of professions.”