"Kinda blacked out": Leafs use U of T backup goalie in NHL debut

Apr 9 2023, 4:17 pm

Even late in a season where much of it has felt like killing time until the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to make the dream come true for their newest player.

On Saturday night, University of Toronto goalie Jett Alexander made his NHL debut after signing for the team earlier in the day to backup Ilya Samsonov against their bitter rival in the Montreal Canadiens.

Alexander played just the final 70 seconds in the game as Toronto held court for a 7-1 win (and he didn’t make a save), but it’s obviously an experience he’ll never forget.

“What was it, 1:10 left? Jett, you’re going in. Took my hat off and hopped over the boards. Kinda blacked out, I guess,” Alexander told reporters postgame. “Crazy. Didn’t think as a little kid, this is how you’d get to the NHL. Nonetheless you’re here. So, pretty cool.”

“Couple minutes. Probably felt like 10 for him,” Leafs forward Mitch Marner added.

He’s the second current U Sports goalie this season to suit up in an NHL game, after the Edmonton Oilers used University of Alberta backstopper Matt Berlin back in January.

But while it seemed on the surface like it was the call of Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, the call actually seemed to come from the team’s management.

“It was not my decision. Word came down to me about 30 seconds before the whistle came. We made it happen,” Keefe said.

On the other side of the ice, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. Perhaps feeling a little disrespected by Toronto’s call to use a previously amateur goalie in the closing stages of the game, Canadiens defenceman Chris Wideman hinted that Toronto’s headed for an early playoff exit.

“They’ll get what they deserve in a few weeks,” Wideman said.

Tell us how you really feel, Chris.

The Leafs return to the ice tomorrow when they travel to take on the Florida Panthers, with puck drop set in Sunrise for 7 pm ET.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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