For Chris Driedger, the night where he scored the Western Hockey League's first goalie goal in 10 years had less of a happy ending than the cancelled sitcom Happy Endings.
In the first period on Saturday, the Ottawa Senators-drafted goalie made a save for the Calgary Hitmen at about the same moment officials signalled a penalty. Driedger's Kootenay Ice counterpart, Mackenzie Skapski, went to the bench as play continued, with defenceman Jagger Dirk sending the puck around the boards to forward Zach Franko. Franko tried to pass the puck to the point, where the extra skater Jaedon Descheneau was joining the play. Except it missed everything except the Ice net at the far end of the rink. Since Driedger was the last Hitman to touch the puck, it's his goal.
The goal was originally given to Chase Lang, but was credited to Driedger following the first period.
They all look like slapshots the next day, though. Driedger is the sixth goalie in WHL history to be credited with a goal. The last was the Prince George Cougars' Jordan McLaughlin, who pulled off the rare feat on March 6, 2004 vs. the Vancouver Giants. McLaughlin's marksmanship sealed a 4-1 win.
Alas for Driedger and Calgary, the hockey gods' ironic punishments division was extra creative Saturday. Hitmen fans have ritually (and cheerfully) chanted, "Kootenay sucks!" early in games after the Saddledome plays the ubiquitous "charge!" refrain, regardless of who is the visiting team. It seems odd to the uninitiated since the entire population of Cranbrook, B.C., could almost fit inside the Saddledome. It started after Kootenay upset Calgary in the 2000 playoffs to sabotage its hopes of winning back-to-back WHL titles and has continued to this day; it's 100 per cent playful.
Yet there is still that element of big city teasing the small market that might not sit well. It's just odd how the rest of that game played out. After the Ice's own goal, Calgary scored a short-handed goal directly off the ensuing faceoff. From the point that the goal was changed to Driedger onward, the Ice controlled play and won 5-2 thanks in part to a three-assist night from top NHL draft prospect Sam Reinhart. Odd, that.
So Driedger, who stopped 26 of 29 shots, was presumably dissatisfied by the outcome. Regardless, the 19-year-old is having a steady season with Calgary, ranking fifth in the WHL with both a 2.55 average and .918 save percentage. He's also in unique company as a goal-tallying 'tender in the Dub, since long-time NHL netminders Olaf Kolzig and Chris Osgood were the first two to do so back in 1989 and '91 respectively.
The Canadian Hockey League's last goalie goal came April 23, 2012, when Mark Visentin scored to seal a Niagara IceDogs' playoff win over the Ottawa 67's.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
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