Ducks End Season Finale with Emergency Backup Goalie in 4-2 Loss to Stars

Anaheim played the entire third third with emergency backup Tom Hodges at the net, ultimately resulting in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars in the Ducks’ season finale at the American Airlines Center.

After starter John Gibson left the game after one spell with an upper body injury and a backup Anton Stolarz After the second ended with a lower body injury, Hodges was forced into the Anaheim net to start the third.

NHL rules require the home team to provide both teams with an emergency backup goalie (commonly known as an EBUG) and Hodges was on call and forced into action tonight. Originally from Shropshire, England, Hodges played college hockey for SMU near Dallas and briefly for the Allen Americans of the ECHL.

Hodges wore a Stars-logo mask and green leg guards that clash with his new Ducks jersey. “I’m a little out of breath but I’m fine,” he said immediately after the game. “It was a little touch and go there. We weren’t exactly sure, however [Stolarz] could barely walk and had to throw on my jersey. It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever had in my life, but I’m just glad I didn’t embarrass myself out there.”

Hodges grew up in England and came to the States with his family when he was 12, the same age that he lost the sight in his left eye due to an unusual hockey injury. As one of the two contingency backups, he attends most of the Stars’ home games and has been encouraged by the Dallas fans who have cheered him on during this third spell. “It’s super nice, appreciate it,” he said, “I think everyone could see I was a little bit nervous. The support of the home fans has made a huge difference. I appreciate them all very much.”

Video: ANA@DAL: Thomas Hodges fills in as EBUG for Ducks

He also commended the rest of the Ducks for the support they offered him. “It’s the best group of guys ever,” said Hodges. “They just came up to me and tried to calm me down. They realized I was ready to have a panic attack. It made the whole experience a lot easier.”

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

His brand new Ducks teammates kept the puck off him for most of the third period, but Dallas winger Jason Robertson got past him on the power play with 10:04 to go.

After a goal, the Ducks benched Hodges for an extra attacker with just under two minutes left, but Dallas center Vladislav Namestnikov filled the empty net with 1:00 left to end the game.

Max Comtois and Troy Terry Everyone had goals for the Ducks, who finished the season 31-37-14 and seventh in the Pacific Division, while Dallas came into play tonight having already secured a postseason berth and in the wild card race finished first in the Western Conference 46-30. 6.

Comtois ended a self-proclaimed frustrating season with a decoy hit after 7 1/2 minutes in the first minute that actually bounced off Dallas defenseman Esa Lindell.

Video: ANA@DAL: Puck steers from Comtois into the net

It was the third goal in as many season-ending games for Comtois, who led the Ducks as top scorer last season and finished the 2021-22 season with six goals and 15 points.

Gibson saved all five shots he saw in the first before the injury, but Dallas roared back with goals on Stolarz from Thomas Harley (the first of his NHL career) and Joel Hanley within 2 1/2 minutes early in the middle session to make it 2-1 Dallas.

Terry equalized on his 37th of the season at 4:19, benefiting from a great pass Adam Henrique just outside the crease.

Video: ANA@DAL: Terry buries Henrique’s food

But that was the Ducks’ final goal, who focused heavily on keeping the puck away from Hodges for the last 20 minutes. And despite the loss, Hodges was hugged by his Ducks teammates and later the Stars after the final horn.

“I think once we got on the ice and started walking around a bit and going about my normal routine, it felt like any other hockey game I’ve played before,” said Hodges, whose primary occupation is selling life insurance. “In that dressing room when I got this call, ‘Hey, you actually have to go out,’ because it was 50-50 in there for a while. Yes, I was probably more nervous than ever. I’ve never played in front of so many people. An experience of a lifetime and something I’m sure I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Video: Ducks Emergency Backup Goalie Tom Hodges Reflects

– – – – –

The Ducks will ultimately look back on the 2021-22 season as one that delivered countless memorable moments, that began with a bang and eventually ended as the final step in a franchise rebuilding process.

Anaheim surprised many with a successful first half of the campaign, putting on an eight-game winning streak and an 8-0-2 run from late October through mid-November. Briefly flirting with first place in the Pacific Division, the Ducks went into the Christmas break a respectable 17-9-6. But multiple players and coaches falling ill with COVID, injuries, defensive struggles and a roster reshuffle all contributed to a frustrating second half of the season. During the NHL Trade Deadline, veterans like Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson and Nic Deslauriers were traded for prospects and draft picks. All were players who would become free agents this offseason, part of the rebuilding plan put in place by general manager Pat Verbeek, who was hired from Anaheim in early February.

Wins and losses notwithstanding, the Ducks had countless memorable moments throughout the season. center Trevor Zegras pleaded for the Calder Trophy with a 60-point season punctuated by frequent flashes of brilliance, including two lacrosse-style goals and a lacrosse-style “alley-oop” pass to a Sonny Milano Target in Buffalo last December.

Terry erased his career-high 36 goals and became the first Ducks player to score more than 30 goals for a reason since 2017-18 and make his first All-Star game in the process.

captain Ryan Getzlaf announced his impending post-season retirement in early April and went out with a bang in his final game with a rotating backhand assist for Adam Henrique in front of a packed crowd at the Honda Center last Sunday.

Young players like Zegras, Terry, Jamie Drydale, Isac Lundestrom, Sam Stahl and (briefly) Mason McTavish evolved. Those players’ promise, combined with the prospects in Anaheim’s system and eight picks in the first two rounds of the next two NHL drafts, prompted The Hockey News to rank the Ducks #1 in the NHL in their annual Future Watch issue.

Along with Zegras and Drysdale, the Ducks have five of the top 83 candidates in the league with Drew Helleson joining prospects McTavish, Lukas Dostal, Olen Zellweger and Jacob Perreault.

So while it’s going to be another long summer for the Ducks after missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season, all signs point to a bright future in Anaheim.

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