For one night, a UBC student will be an NHL player.
Surrey’s Jordan White, the starting goaltender for the UBC’s men’s hockey team, has been signed to a one-day professional contract by the San Jose Sharks as an emergency backup. He will sit on the Sharks’ bench tonight at Rogers Place, backing up Antti Niemi as they face the Vancouver Canucks (7pm start time). White was called into action after San Jose’s regular backup, Antero Niittymäki, was injured in practice.
“Coach [Milan Dragicevic] called me into his office and told me the situation,” said White, who was preparing for practice with UBC around noon. “At first, I was just trying to put it into perspective. You’ve heard about these stories on TV or in the papers and I’m looking forward to the experience and taking it for what it is,” he added.
So far this season for the UBC Thunderbirds, White has started every game for the team, and has a record of 7 wins and 11 losses, with a save percentage of .876.
Emergency backup goaltenders are signed by teams who would be otherwise unable to dress two goaltenders for a game, a rule implemented by the NHL in 1965. The sight is rare in the professional leagues, as most teams are able to bring in prospects from the minor leagues by the time the game begins, but is slightly more common in the minors.
It’s a situation that UBC is somewhat used to. On December 9, 2003, third-string T-Birds goalie Chris Levesque was signed by the Vancouver Canucks to a one-day contract to backup Johan Hedberg when the Canucks played the Pittsburgh Penguins at GM Place.
And while White will be facing off against the Canucks, he knows where his loyalties lie tonight.
“I can be a Canucks fan every other night but tonight’s I’m going to rooting for the guys on the bench with me.”
With files from gothunderbirds.ca.