Emergency goalie Hodges makes two saves in loss for Ducks

Thomas Hodgesan emergency backup, played for the Anaheim Ducks and was the goalie of record in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday.

Hodges started the third period after injuries to John Gibson (upper body) and Anthony Stolarz (lower body), allowing one goal on three shots. He entered with the game tied 2-2.

Hodges has been the emergency backup in Dallas since 2019.

“When I got the call, that ‘Hey, you’re actually going to have to go out’ — because it was 50-50 there for a little bit — I was probably about as nervous as I’ve ever been, the 28-year-old said. “I’ve never played in front of so many people. Experience of a lifetime, and something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life for sure.

“I go from being in the stands watching a hockey game to having to play the third period in the course of 30 minutes. Unreal. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

Born in Shropshire, England, Hodges moved to Dallas when he was 11 and joined the club hockey team at Southern Methodist University in Dallas after enrolling to study journalism. He attended Stars games as a kid.

Hodges was invited to practice with the Allen Americans of the ECHL in 2016-17 by then-goaltending coach Thomas Speer and eventually signed a tryout contract with them. It was during his time in the ECHL that Stars assistant general manager Mark Janko found Hodges when looking for an EBUG in the Dallas area.

“I played one game ECHL. Slight exaggeration. Few minutes, ECHL,” Hodges said. “I think I led the league in goals against that year. Before that, 18U Tier II AA. I always dreamed of one day getting to play a game in the NHL, but one day when I was 12 years old, I lost the sight in my left eye. It became kind of an impossibility.

“I worked hard, played 18U AA. But then after not playing for a little bit, I said, ‘I think I want to play hockey again’. Maybe some adult league. So I got with a goalie coach, who happened to be the goalie coach of the Allen Americans in the ECHL. After a couple of practices, he said ‘Not bad. Come on out and practice with my guys when we need another goalie.’ So that’s what I do now [with the Stars] when somebody needs a game off.”

Hodges, who said he lost sight in one of his eyes when he was younger, enjoyed Friday better than his day job.

“I was playing hockey, and took a puck off the head,” he said. “It was just kind of a freak thing. I sell life insurance. So if anyone needs some life insurance, let me know.”

Forward Troy Terry said the Ducks players sensed the nerves and tried to calm Hodges down when he entered the game.

“Once he comes in there, our attitude shifted to playing for him, and we told him that,” Terry said. “Obviously, you could tell he was nervous, so just trying to calm him down. When we went out there, we had a power play to start, and I think he asked me what the score was like 10 seconds before puck drop. was like ‘2-2, but don’t think about it.’ We just told him to have fun. We were going to be happy no matter what happened, so we were happy for him.”

Hodges also noticed Stars fans were cheering for him during the game, even though he was playing against them. Dallas players even stick-taped and hugged him after the game.

“I appreciated it. I think everyone could tell I was a little nervous, and to have the support of the home fans made a big difference, so I really appreciate all of them,” Hodges said. “I used to skate with [the Stars] a couple of times a month. Some of them I haven’t met before, but they all seem like great guys.”

The Ducks showered Hodges with water when he entered the locker room after the game and gave him the game puck.

“I’ve got a lot of wet gear from all the water they threw on me in the locker room,” he said. “But also I got one of the game pucks from tonight, so I’ll cherish that. Oh, and the jersey.”

Before Friday, the last time an emergency backup goalie was used in an NHL game was Feb. 22, 2020, at the Toronto Maple Leafs, when David Ayres made seven saves at 28:41 for the Carolina Hurricanes after Peter Mrazek and James Reimer each sustained an injury during the game. Ayres earned the win with the Hurricanes defeating the Maple Leafs 6-3.

Tweet from @AnaheimDucks: He battled for us.We battled for him.Thank you, Tom Hodges! 🧡 this team. #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/yarDMTHw1K

NHL.com independent correspondent Taylor Baird contributed to this report

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