He sported a little rust but Daniel Spence got the job done.
The Calgary Hitmen backup goalie, filling in for Justin Pogge while he's at Canada's world junior camp, stepped up and backstopped the Hitmen (24-8-0-0) to a 5-3 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds last night at the Saddledome.
In what was a less-than-stellar defensive effort from the team, the 17-year-old stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced, including some great saves and won his second game of the season.
It was the Hitmen's sixth win in a row and Spence said seeing a lot of rubber helped him settle in.
"As many shots as I can get, I'll take them. The more I get, the more I feel into the game and I haven't been playing much, so it helps to get a good number of shots," said Spence, who appeared in his fifth game this season.
"I felt pretty good going in. I went in there with the attitude that I don't have anything to lose and tried to have as much fun as a I could out there and just enjoy the game."
He did give up several big rebounds and vowed to work on that this week.
He'll have plenty of time to practise since the Hitmen don't play again until Friday when they travel to Prince Albert.
One of Spence's better saves came in the first with Seattle on the powerplay. He went cross-crease and robbed Tyler Johnson, who looked to have an open net for a one-timer.
Calgary head coach/GM Kelly Kisio was pleased with Spence's work between the pipes and knows the second-year player might be the man until the new year if Pogge makes the world junior squad.
"I thought he was real good tonight. He made some good saves at key times, so I thought he did a good job. I was really happy with his effort," Kisio said.
The Hitmen had a 3-0 lead by the early part of the second period on goals by Riley Merkley, Brodie Dupont and Carson McMillan but the wheels nearly fell off late in the frame.
The T-birds (14-13-1-3) cut into the lead at 13:59 on Lindsay Nielsen's tally.
Then they scored two quick goals, 20 seconds apart, with former Hitmen Roman Tomanek scoring at 18:12.
Aaron Gagnon tied it when all five Hitmen players stood around the crease trying to play a loose puck.
Calgary regrouped and went up for good on Isaac Reid's marker at 3:01 of the final frame when he deflected a Dustin Kohn point shot.
Lukas Vantuch iced it with an empty-netter.
Calgary outshot the T-Birds 38-31.
MOSCALUK WALKS: Veteran forward Darryl Moscaluk has walked away from the Calgary Hitmen, along with often-injured forward Cam Lilley.
They left the team Saturday after talking with Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio, who called the players' defection no big loss.
"Moscaluk quit once before (three weeks ago) and we told him it was the worst thing he could do," said Kisio.
"Our young guys stepped up and played hard and I'd rather develop some young guys that want to play."
Look for Moscaluk to join the AJHL's Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who hold his rights.
Meanwhile, the Hitmen acquired D Craig Lineker, 19, from Saskatoon for a sixth-round bantam draft pick in 2006.
The 6-ft. 2-in., 201-pounder is from Calgary and played last night against Seattle.