Jordan White Gets Nod as Sharks' Emergency Goalie
White, a second-year goaltender with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, was thrust into an emergency backup role Thursday with the San Jose Sharks as they beat the Vancouver Canucks, 2-1, in a shootout at Rogers Arena.
"It was exciting," said White. "It was an experience I'll remember for a while."
The 22-year-old Surrey, B.C., native, signed a contract to fill in for Antero Niittymaki, who suffered a groin injury during the morning skate. Just before UBC was to practice, White was called into the coach's office and instructed to join the Sharks for their game.
Maybe it's a good thing White didn't play, since Sharks starting netminder Antti Niemi was forced to make 36 saves. The clubs combined for 82 shots as San Jose outshot Vancouver 47-35, including 25-9 in the second period.
"I think it would have been a really great experience for me if I did get in there," said White. "Hopefully, the outcome would have been the same."
Canucks winger Alex Burrows almost enabled him to see some action as he fell onto Niemi in the first period during a scramble. Niemi was slow to get up but showed no ill effect afterward.
"I knew (Niemi) was a tough competitor," said White, who usually cheers for the Canucks. "I wasn't too worried about him. I knew he would bounce back right away."
White played five seasons of junior hockey with the Portland Winterhawks and Prince George Cougars of the WHL and Penticton Vees of the BC Hockey League, but was not drafted or signed as a free agent by an NHL team.
"These are guys you meet on TV, you have in your fantasy pool or guys you cheer for," said White. "So it's nice to see how they prepare and practice their trade."
Sitting on the bench was unusual for the Thunderbirds' No. 1 goalie, who has a 7-7-4 record, 3.51 goals-against average and .876 save percentage while starting every conference game.
"(The warmup) was a bit different. I've been starting all the games at UBC," said White. "So I let (Niemi) take (most of) the shots today ... I just went in there and took the shots for the guys so that they could be prepared."
San Jose coach Todd McLellan appreciated White helping out his club on short notice as the Sharks posted their sixth straight win.
"The coach at UBC has an NHL goaltender now," said McLellan. "So the rest of (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) better worry."
Sharks spokesman Scott Emmert told FanHouse that the team would make a decision on a more permanent replacement for Niitymaki -- who must spend at least seven days on injured reserve -- on Friday.
White wasn't the first UBC goalie to fill in as a backup unexpectedly during an NHL game at Vancouver's downtown arena. Chris Levesque dressed for the Canucks on Dec. 9, 2003, backing up Johan Hedberg.