Junior A goalie jumps in

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

The travel time from the Stouffville Arena to the Maple Leafs dressing room at Etobicoke's MasterCard Centre is about an hour, if the downtown traffic isn't in its usual snarl.

But for 20-year-old goalie Kori Coelho, this is one journey that has been a trip of a lifetime.

Coelho, who plays for the Central Canadian Hockey Association's tier II junior A Stouffville Spirit, was contacted by Frank Neal on Monday night. Frank, father of Spirit player Matt Neal, is a scout with the Leafs.

The question posed to Coelho by Frank Neal: Would you like to be the second goalie at Leafs practices this week, lining up at the other end from veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere until Swede Jonas Gustavsson returns from the Olympics?

"What was there to think about?" Coelho said after working out with the Leafs on Wednesday. "I said yes right away."

On this day, Coelho was a celebrity in his own right, receiving kudos from defenceman Luke Schenn and a warm handshake from Maple Leafs' vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin.

"What an amazing experience it's been, one I'll never forget," Coelho said, grinning from ear to ear.

Coelho, a Toronto native, will be at Ryerson in the fall and plans on strapping on the pads for the school's hockey team.

In the meantime, there is more pressing business at hand.

Like standing in front of Dion Phaneuf's blazing slapshots.

"It's not just that he shoots it hard, it's that he gets it away so quick," Coelho said. "I'd have to say almost every player out there has the puck on his stick for no longer than a second.

"I'm enjoying the whole thing."


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