BOSTON – It’s been quite a week for Drew MacIntyre.
The well-travelled Toronto Marlies goalie has become a YouTube sensation. And, on Friday, he filled in for Ben Scrivens at Leafs practice while the Toronto backup attended his grandfather’s funeral in Alberta.
MacIntyre’s hockey journey since his junior days with the QMJHL Sherbrooke Castors, from 1999 to 2003, has been an odyssey.
The 29-year-old from Stratford, P.E.I., has played for the ECHL’s Reading Royals and Toledo Storm and the AHL’s Grand Rapid Griffins, Hamilton Bulldogs, Hershey Bears, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals, Rochester Americans and Toronto Marlies (who offered him a contract in February).
There was also two games with the Vancouver Canucks, in 2007-08, and two with the Buffalo Sabres in 2011-12. And a cup of coffee in the KHL.
Asked whether he can remember the teams he has played for this season alone, MacIntyre replied: “I’ve got to think about it.”
After a career spent in the minors, MacIntyre has become somewhat of an Internet sensation for a miraculous save April 27 while playing for the Marlies in a playoff game against the Rochester Americans.
As a Rochester player cruised through the slot, he sent the puck over to a teammate at the right side of the goal who one-timed it at the net. MacIntyre slid over from the left side of his goal, with his right hand and stick down on the ice to guard against the low shot
When he saw the Rochester player had shot high, MacIntyre flung his (left) glove hand behind his back and snagged the puck for a Houdini-like save.
The video, titled “MacIntyre’s Greatest Save Ever,” has drawn more than 1.5 million hits on YouTube.
“It’s crazy,” the goalie said. “Everybody keeps texting me.”
He takes more pride in the fact that his save kept the score at 3-3 at a time in the game when Rochester was on a roll. The Marlies went on to win 6-3.
“Definitely some luck involved but I guess a little bit of instinct and muscle memory to make the save,” he said.
“In the split-second that I had, I knew that was my only chance,” he added.
MacIntyre had never tried the save in a game before but has pulled it off in practice.
“I think that’s the reason why I reacted that way, otherwise I don’t think I would have thought of it,” he said.
For the record, MacIntyre started this season in Prague of the KHL before getting hurt. He was assigned to a Czech team and then came home, where he practised with the U.P.E.I. team for a month and a half before getting a hockey gig in Reading.
He was called up to Hershey for a game, then back to Reading until the Marlies summoned him.
The Leafs are his sixth team this season.
“Short and sweet but I’ll take it,” he said of his short stop with the NHL team.
He got the Toronto call after helping the Marlies to a 3-2 overtime series win over Rochester on Wednesday. He took the team bus back to Toronto and then flew to Boston on Thursday night.
MacIntyre, who was drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 2001, has nothing but good things to say about the Marlies and coach Dallas Eakins.
“They treat the players amazing,” he said. “I’m a good one to ask because I’ve played on a lot of teams. It’s a special place to play.”
While MacIntyre says his hockey travels have made him a better person, he admits there were times when he thought about calling it quits—especially when he was practising with the university team.
“People who were very close to me were kind of dropping hints about what I’m going to do—whether (it’s) go to school or something … I’m not going to lie. The thought crossed my mind, when Central League and East Coast League teams are saying No, No.”
He credits wife Karen for being supportive and allowing him to pursue his dream. Their bond is permanent—they have their initials tattooed on their ring fingers.
“I have a lot of faith and I know that it’s all happened for a reason. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and I think a lot of the lessons were what I needed to learn,” he said. “If you ask me, I say it all happened for a reason.”
He expects to rejoin the Marlies on the weekend. As to the future, he’s not sure. His contact finishes after the season.
When he hangs it up, he will have plenty of memories and more than a few souvenirs.
“There’s a great cupboard of sweaters back home,” he said.
But not all his teams are represented. Some minor league clubs are too cheap to let go of them, apparently.
“But the ones that do, I have them all saved.”