Goalie, 45, makes ECHL debut after 25 years as emergency backup

Skip Hickey / Alaska Aces

Jeff Barney turned 45 last week and the ECHL’s Alaska Aces gave him a birthday gift to remember. In their season finale Saturday night, the Aces handed him the start in goal against the Colorado Eagles. 

The start was a long time coming for Barney, who’s served as the team’s local emergency backup for the last 25(!) years. 

An executive director at Fur Rendezvous, a winter festival in Alaska, and a youth hockey coach, Barney has worked practices for the Aces for years and nearly made his debut during the preseason before the coaching staff decided to use the two contracted goalies they had on the roster at the time.

Barney had a great start against Colorado, stopping all 14 shots he faced in the first period, but a four-goal second period helped power the Eagles to a 5-3 victory. “That first period was very nerve wracking, it was all adrenaline for sure,” he said via KTVA.

Barney would stop 21 of 25 shots faced while battling through the rigors of a full professional game at age 45.

From the Alaska Dispatch News

Barney said he began cramping in the second period – he said his hand cramped on his first postgame autograph too -- and hinted to [backup Jacob] DeSerres that DeSerres could take over for the third period. No dice.

“I don’t think he was having any of it,’’ Barney said with a grin.

Trenz said the players on the bench noticed that, beginning in the second period, Barney would shake out his fatigued legs occasionally when the puck was at the other end of the ice.

And [forward Justin] Breton mused that a full game of professional goaltending is likely to exact a toll.

“He’ll be a little sore tomorrow,’’ Breton said. “He’ll sleep good tonight. I can guarantee that.’’

Even after achieving the goal of getting a start in net, Barney said afterward he has no plans on retiring and will continue to serve as the Aces’ emergency backup for as long as they need him.

Now how do we get Barney and Jaromir Jagr on the ice at the same time?

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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