There are times in the life of a hockey fan where a player can enter your sphere of interest for only a brief period, but still find themselves a permanent place in the messy Locker of Affection in your hockey heart.
For me, Kurtis Foster is a guy like that, after coming down to Houston for a conditioning stint after breaking his femur, and being just a joy to watch, great attitude, and a huge help with his bomb of a slapshot at a time when the Aeros really needed that lift to get into the playoffs (the Locke/Kolanos season).
Another is Matt Climie, who swooped in during that same playoff run where goalies were dropping like flies, battled through dehydration and cramping to get the Aeros some important wins.
Now, you can add Joe Fallon to that list. To get the Ms.Conducty stuff out of the way first: Oh gosh, y'all, he's really cute. And really nice. And you could have punched him in the face after tonight's game and I don't think he would have quit smiling. I wanted to hug him and bake him cookies and stuff.
Goaltending is a funny business. It's hard, it's painful, it's embarrassing at times. But when it's good... man, there is nothing better in life. Feeling good in goal is such a phenomenal place to be, I'm not even sure how to describe it.
It's like, "just had great sex" and "my hair looks freaking awesome today" and "these jeans are comfortable AND make my ass look amazing" and "the bills are paid with some left over for, not just beer, but GOOD beer" and "it's Friday night of a 3-day weekend." That's how great it is. Life is pretty much perfect when you're having a good streak in net.
And to have come to that feeling after a rough start here, having spent the season in the ECHL, and to have fought through it and elevated his game to this level is the kind of stuff that makes me love love love watching hockey at this level.
Watching guys get choice opportunities like this and just GO TO TOWN with them is an honor to witness. And for it to be happening at a time when the Aeros really need it to happen is even more special.
He was funny after the game, when John asked him about that insane OT save where he stuck his glove out behind him to swipe that puck out of the air before it made what appeared to be an inevitable trip to the back of the net... he basically admitted to being out of position and that he hopes he doesn't have to make too many like that as his game improves.
Talk about humility (and, well, honesty... but still what a save!)
He also said he hopes to work this week on the defense being able to work with him on outlet passes, which thrills my heart because I love me a goalie who's confident and competent moving the puck in meaningful ways. Still, I have to wonder how much more we'll see of him as it sounds like Hackett may be back this week.
But I won't worry about that for now. At the moment, I'm content to bask in the reflected glow of a goalie playing out of his mind, exceeding everyone's expectations, as well as enjoying the benefit that has for the team I care most about.