College goaltender gets call from Sharks to be emergency backup for NHL game

VANCOUVER – Jordan White got the best seat in the house to watch a goaltending clinic Thursday night.

The University of British Columbia netminder signed a one-game amateur tryout contract to be the emergency backup for the San Jose Sharks before their 2-1 NHL shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

He got to watch Shark goalie Antti Niemi make 36 saves and stone Canucks Mason Raymond, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler in the shootout.

At the other end, Canuck netminder Roberto Luongo was also brilliant, stopping all but one of a 46-shot barrage.

“It was really exciting,” White, who jumped on the ice with the rest of the team to congratulate Niemi after the shootout, said in the dressing room.

“Both goalies played really well but I’m glad these guys came out on top. I’ve been a Canucks fan for a while but not tonight.”

Sharks goaltender Antero Niittymaki suffered a groin injury during the morning skate at Rogers Arena, leaving Niemi as San Jose’s only netminder.

White, of suburban Surrey, was told he was making the jump to the big leagues when he was called in to his coach’s office just before the UBC Thunderbirds’ practice.

“Everyone was really welcoming,” said White, 22, a second-year university goalie with three years’ major junior experience in the WHL.

“I played some soccer with the guys before (the on-ice warmup). The guys were really positive and upbeat in here. It was really nice.”

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His day was done after stopping some shots and stretching in the pre-game warm-up.

But there were plenty of memories for the Thunderbirds goalie who has started every conference game in 2010-11. He has a 7-7-4 record with a 3.51 goals-against average and an .876 save percentage.

“These are guys you meet on TV, you have in your fantasy hockey teams or guys you cheer for, so it’s nice to see how they prepare and practise their trade.

“The whole day overall had a lot of moments that exceeded what I thought it would be.

“The first call in the afternoon and coming here and seeing how welcoming all the guys are, and just being able to go out there and lace’em up and see the energy in this building and just be on the ice is something I really cherished.’”

There was one anxious moment when Niemi crawled out from under a pileup on his doorstep in the first period.

“I wasn’t too worried,” White said. “He bounced back right away.”

White isn’t the first UBC goalie to get a call from the NHL. Chris Levesque served as a backup to Johan Hedberg for the Canucks in a Dec. 9, 2003, game.

White got to keep his Sharks sweater and hat for his night’s work.

“I don’t really need too much,” he said. “This is something I will remember forever.”