December 30, 2017 / 6:19 AM / 9 months ago

Glass ceiling: 32-year-old rookie leads Blackhawks past Oilers

Glass ceiling: 32-year-old rookie leads Blackhawks past Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta — It was 2 a.m. Friday when Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville informed goaltender Jeff Glass that his NHL dream would finally be coming true.

After the Blackhawks lost in Vancouver on Thursday, Quenneville decided that Glass would be getting his first NHL start Friday in Edmonton.

Glass is from Calgary, less than three hours down the highway. So in the middle of the night, the calls went out to family and friends. They made the trek to Edmonton to be at Rogers Place on Friday night to witness a Hollywood script unfolding in front of their eyes.

Glass made his NHL debut more than 13 years after he was drafted by Ottawa. He made 42 saves, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Patrick Kane scored the winner 50 seconds into overtime.

Kane didn’t want to talk about his goal. He wanted to talk about Glass.

“For him to kind of be a journeyman, to wait this long for his first career NHL start, to be close to home for him, the way he played tonight, you can’t really write a better script,” Kane saud. “So, got to be ecstatic for him, we were all jacked up after the game. Probably happier than a normal win in the regular season just because he was in net.”

Glass wasn’t the only Hawk to enjoy a first. Jordan Oesterle, a former Oiler, scored his first career NHL goal.

In 2005, Glass won gold with Canada at the World Junior Championships, a team that included future NHL stars like Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf and Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Then Glass disappeared off the North American hockey radar. He bounced around the minors and made 218 appearances in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

But Glass was called up from the Blackhawks’ farm team in Rockford earlier in the week when Chicago’s No. 1 goalie, Corey Crawford, went down to injury. He played behind Anton Forsberg on Thursday. But he made the most of his chance Friday, playing in front of his parents, wife and two-month-old daughter.

“I’ve got a great support group,” Glass said. “I’ve got a great group of family and friends, coaches and trainers who have pushed me in the summers and during the season. That’s the people I think of right now, when something like this happens, all the people who kind of helped me to get here.”

Seabrook was Glass’ roommate back at the World Juniors 13 years ago. Now they’re reunited as teammates.

“When I asked him, I didn’t really realize it was his first game,” Seabrook laughed. “He’s 32. I thought he would have played a couple. It was impressive to see.

“To see his excitement, see his level of intensity in warmups and I’m sure he was buzzing all day, all excited knowing that he had a lot of family here in town and friends and buddies who got the call-up at 2:30 in the morning last night when we landed. They all got up in the morning and booked flights and got in the car and drove up here. It was exciting day for him, we’re excited for him, but most importantly he was a big reason why we got two points tonight.”

The Oilers greeted him with a first-period barrage. Glass stopped the first 16 shots he faced, including a breakaway attempt from Leon Draisaitl. But at 14:26 on shot No. 17, Jesse Puljujarvi beat Glass on the power play.

With 54.7 seconds left in the first period, the Hawks tied the score when Ryan Hartman swatted home a rebound off a shot from Kane.

Glass kept it at 1-1 when he stopped Milan Lucic at point-blank range late in the first. He began the second by stopping reigning NHL MVP Connor McDavid on a break.

“In the first period, it felt nice to touch the puck,” Glass said. “I’m sure if I didn’t have any shots I would have been sitting there wondering what’s going on. ... It kind of felt routine after that. We have a great team here, it’s just easy to stop the puck back there and do my job.”

The Hawks took the lead at 14:06. On the power play, Alex DeBrincat snapped a shot through Cam Talbot’s pads after a nice pass from Nick Schmaltz. Oesterle scored on the power play at 8:28 of the third period, his shot coming off the bar, off Talbot and in.

The Oilers rallied with two late goals. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it 3-2 as his shot deflected off Seabrook with 2:19 left. Then Draisaitl scored off a scramble with 54 seconds left.

“We had numerous chances to take the lead and take some of the will away from them and they stuck around and stuck around and they started to take our will away from us,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.

“I thought we started to get frustrated because the puck wasn’t going in the net and as a result we got a little loose. They were able to score on the power play, but we were able to come back and earn the point, but it was a frustrating night for a team and for some individuals.”

Nugent-Hopkins said, “That push at the end for us is something we can build on. Even though we had a ton of shots, I still don’t think that was our cleanest game. We know when we play well and when we don’t, and tonight was not our best game. But we still found a way to push back and claw our way back into it.”

Now the Hawks head to Calgary, and a possible homecoming game for Glass on Sunday. The script just keeps getting better. So when Disney calls, who does Glass want playing him in the movie?

“Somebody not that good looking and really old, I guess,” Glass laughed.

NOTES: The Oilers activated D Oscar Klefbom from injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the team placed veteran D Eric Gryba on waivers. ... The Blackhawks activated D Cody Franson from injured reserve but had to place C Artem Anisimov on IR. Anisimov was knocked out of Wednesday’s game in Vancouver with an upper-body injury. ... The Oilers scratched D Yohann Auvitu, D Brandon Davidson and LW Anton Slepyshev. ... The Blackhawks scratched D Gustav Forsling, D Jan Rutta and LW Patrick Sharp. ... Blackhawks alumnus Fred Sasakamoose, the first Canadian indigenous player to appear in the NHL, was honored before the game. Sasakamoose was named to the Order of Canada on Friday.

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