By Rob Ficiur
Two months ago I wrote a column with a similar title. Even though there have been over one hundred years of professional team sports in North America, situations come up that have never happened before. Since they have not happened before, chances are you won’t see the things again for the next hundred years.
1. Father and Son Goalies –
On Oct. 22, Jonah Imoo made his first ever professional hockey start for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League. Jonah Imoo’s took a very atypical path to professional hockey. He had good numbers in his three seasons in the BC Hockey League. Last year he played in the Federated Hockey League and the Southern Professional Hockey League. (These leagues are so far down the list of leagues I did not know they existed) Jonah had a professional try out with the Los Angeles Kings this summer and was eventually released.
Former Lethbridge Hurricane goalie Dusty Imoo, is Jonah’s father and the goalie coach for the Los Angeles Kings. When the Kings’ lost all star goalie Jonathan Quick the first day of the season, a spot opened on the Kings’ minor league team in Ontario. On Oct. 22, the Kings lost another goalie to injury, meaning another minor league call up.
Suddenly Jonah Imoo, who was not on an active roster opening day, was now the starting goalie for the AHL’s Ontario Reign. With no time to sign another goalie, the Reign signed their goalie coach (Jonah’s father) to what a amounts to a one game contract. Jonah Imoo got his first professional start wearing jersey #35 with his father as the backup goalie (wearing #70).
A week later, Justin Imoo was injured in his second AHL start. The next day, with Justin unable to dress for the reign’s third game in three days, Dusty signed on again – this time as a replacement for his son.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie Austin Matthews scored four goals in first NHL game. In the one hundred year history of the NHL no player has scored four goals in his first game. Four others scored hat tricks (three goals) in their first ever game. Scoring three (or four) goals in your first NHL game is not a guarantee of future NHL success. The four other players had very different careers after that great start.
The other first game hat trickers were: Alex Smart (1943 scored 5 career goals in an eight game NHL career); Real Cloutier (1979 scored 146 career NHL goals. He also scored 286 WHA goals before coming in the NHL); Fabian Brunnstrom (2008 scored 19 career goals in his 99 NHL career games) and Derek Stepan (2010 has scored 111 goals in his first six NHL seasons)
As of this moment Austin Matthews is tied with for the NHL goal scoring lead with six. For the first time in living memory the Maple Leafs have a potential rookie super star? Can Matthews maintain that level?
3. Nashville Call up – The Nashville Predators were hit by a bout of suspected food poisoning. The illness spread so far into the team that they were forced to recall five players for their game against Pittsburgh. Three of the five call ups played against the defending Stanely Cup champions. Following the Pittsburgh game three of the five players were returned to the Predators minor league team. With all these call ups, the Predators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nashville has only two wins in their first eight games; one of those wins came with call ups and some other slightly less ill players. (Since that win the team has lost three straight).
4. Strike Out Legend – Andrew Miller set an all-time playoff record with 29 strikes outs (so far) this post season. This is the most ever strike outs in one playoff year for a relief pitcher. Baseball has more statistical categories than any other sport. The last two playoffs the Kansas City Royals changed baseball thinking by employing three ace relievers in their lineup. The result was two World Series appearances. For his efforts Miller has only one save this post season. In the past saves and wins were the bench mark for measuring a pitcher’s success. Miller’s 0.52 earned run average is close to the best ever. The Blue Jays struck out 14 times in 7.1 innings against Miller. The Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were hot hitting teams before they met up with the Indians in the playoffs. All three teams hope they never see this kind of pitching again.