Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First-hand account of Khudobin's first NHL game/win

If you follow the Wild, you may already know this but to catch everyone up:

Josh Harding's been having hip problems, Nik Backstrom's been barfing his guts out and has a bad back, and so Dubie and Anton have been up with the Wild.

Tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, Harding says he's okay to go and feels good (and I'm thinking, Yeah right.... even small hip strains take forever to heal and if a hockey player is complaining about pain, it ain't because it's a small one... know what I'm sayin'?) Coach Todd Richards has Khudobin backing him up instead of Dubie.

Midway thru the third period, Harding surrenders the tying goal to put the game 2-2 and is shoved awkwardly into his net. Gets up very slowly but continues. Then with about 8 minutes left, he makes a HUGE diving save and from there... doesn't get up again without assistance and can't put any weight on his left leg.

Hey, guess what, Dimples! You're UP!

He was fantastic. Made 9 saves and looked perfectly cool and collected. But a friend of the blog wrote me an email and gave me the story as he saw it from his seat at the Xcel Center tonight and it's just too great not to share with you guys.

You have to promise not to take away his Man Card for getting "sappy" as he said, but I think if you don't get sappy about seeing a kid we've all watched grow up in the Wild organization finally make his NHL debut, there's something wrong with you.
Just getting home from the game. I did not wear my Aeros jersey, but I should have...

You heard it on TV, but the crowd was absolutely going nuts for Harding when he went down and down hard the first time. When he didn't get back up from that massive, spectacular save, he was getting a standing ovation. I know that sounds weird, but the save he made was amazing, and the crowd knew he was down and not getting back up and showed the respect.

When Khudobin made his first big save, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and that place was LOUD. I mean, I've been there when it's been loud, but the only other time I can remember it being louder was last seasons four minute 5v3 kill against the Canes. Everyone was just *screaming*.

Props to John Scott for helping his good friend off the ice. The look of total concern on the big boys face as he was propping up Harding reminded me of why I absolutely love this sport. You just don't see a collective "we care" holding of the breath as you saw in the team tonight when Harding wasn't getting up. I say props to John Scott, but every single member of the team would have been there to help Josh off.

Anton looked VERY shaky nervous when he took the ice. He didn't face much in the way of a decent shot until that first big save which had the crowd on their feet. We were in Row 17, right at the goal line. My wife and I could see him shaking on every face off near him. He was NERVOUS like you wouldn't believe.

Yet, when push came to shove, he was there. Yeah, you could tell he was nervous, but he was *focused*. I mean, the type of focus where you can tell he is thinking over and over in his head; "I will not let my team down. I will not let my team down." He always had his eye on the puck, he tried to play it but got caught a bit on one and was bailed out by Johnsson (i think).

Needless to say...

Very fine moment to witness.

It's moments like that which remind me why I love this sport.

I thought you would like to know our first hand account.

Oh, and my wife is going to buy a Khudobin Aeros jersey to commemorate it.


You can't show more respect than that, in my opinion.

Honestly? *tears* This is why I LOVE the AHL, to watch these guys go up and live the dreams they've been nurturing here with us is such a gift.

The game moved me but your account moved me even more, Tim, so I really appreciate you sharing it with us. Might want to get the wife a Khudobin WILD jersey.... :)

Here's video of his two bigger saves:

Oh, and here's the cutest interview ever. Come on. Anybody who gives me shit for calling him Dimples... LOOK AT HIM! Adorable.

And here's some links:

Russo's post-game blog
Star-Tribune's game article


Tracie Karsjens said...

Quick weigh in from "the wife" who was with Tim tonight at the X - awesome game and just like Ms. Conduct said, it was really moving to see a guy get a big break like that. The crowd was so supportive of him and the players were too.

The whole team really stepped up for Harding and for him.

A really tough situation for any goalie and he did a great job in spite of the nerves.

Also - he's adorable and Dimples is a great nickname.

CatTrick said...

Awwww ... anyone who doesn't get teary-eyed over this has a heart of steel! It reminds me of when Anton came thru for the Aeros and got the shut-out during the playoffs on his 23rd birthday.

Thanks for sharing this Ms. Conduct ... what a great story. You're right - cutest interview ever (in his NHL cap)!!! I know his parents are proud.

Congrats, Anton, and wishing Harding a speedy recovery.

Jen said...

One of the things I love so much about "our" AHL guys is that they are so happy when they get a chance to show the rest of the world what they can do.

I bet that was a great phone call home to Russia last night.

Cookie said...

My family and I watched Anton (via Center Ice) last night. Talk about proud! To think that he got his start in Beaumont with us is just too cool.

Mr. Fred, hubby and daughter miss being on the off-ice crew and visiting with you before the games.

At least I can say that our fan site took some great shots of Anton before the team ditched us for California. Good times...good times.

We still have some videos of Anton on our fan page (You Tube), but the pictures are being stored away from the web for the time being.

Anyway, congrats to Anton!

Fred Trask said...

Indeed, some really good times Cookie. Great bunch over there in Beaumont and you deserved a better fate.

Fred Trask said...

I'm loving Anton's interview. So awesome!

Forecheck said...

Is this the same Anton we saw stumble trough the last two months in Houston? Well, I guess you can chalk it up to adrenaline for now.Or maybe he just had to get out of Houston?

Word verification "reste" - what you did on Sunday in England during the Middle Ages.

B2Bomber said...

I watched the gamme on FSN. It was very sad to see Josh have to be helped off the ice. You could tell he was playing with discomfort if not ouright pain. I'm glad Anton did well and looked like the players gave him a lot of love after the game as well.

artandhockey said...

WOW,,just turned in after the drive and wow. Go dimples!Better Half says THAT nakes his bday .LOL soon off to opera later more.

ICEVET said...

As a true believer in Khubobin and his NHL potential, following his superb performance during 18 games in the Calder Playoffs, I would point out that there is probably no one prouder of Anton (other than his parents) than Kevin Constantine, who has quietly mentored AK over the last 2 seasons and stayed behind him through the good and bad times.

After a brilliant start in September and October, AK has been on the end of a rubber band with 4 call-ups and drawn some undeserved criticism over the past two months.

Nevertheless, on this day, he makes all of us very proud.

Go Aeros!

Forecheck said...

I noticed in the box score that they are actually letting L'Ecuyer ref NHL games.

Is the NHL that desperate??