Toledo Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg isn’t a household name, but every hockey fan will be talking about him Monday after he made an incredible sprawling save in overtime against the Fort Wayne Komets.
There’s a lot of hockey to be played in 2016, but we might not have to worry about looking for a save of the year anymore thanks to Toledo Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg.
In ECHL action Sunday, Lerg’s Walleye were up against the Fort Wayne Komets and after regulation ended 2-2, the clubs headed to overtime. Like the NHL, the ECHL operates with a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period which makes for incredibly high-paced action and honestly makes a save like Lerg’s a little more unlikely. With how fast everything is moving, desperation save attempts are necessary, but they’re not often successful.
After a cross-ice pass had Lerg sliding out of position early in overtime, Komets winger Garrett Meurs pulled the puck back across the crease leaving the net almost entirely open. As Meurs slid a backhander towards the empty net, though, Lerg spun his body into the ice, threw out his left arm and kept the puck out:
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) February 15, 2016
Lerg, 29, has already found himself all over highlight reels for the stop and he’s probably not going to stop being on best-of lists until the calendar flips over to 2017. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Lerg is making saves of a Dominik Hasek variety considering how well he’s playing this season. Through 28 games, he has a 20-5-1 record, 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
As things tend to go in hockey, Lerg’s save kept the Walleye in the contest and they would go on to win the game in a shootout.
Lerg made his way to the ECHL as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, where he was the rarely seen goaltender/captain of the Spartans in his 2008-09 season. After leaving Michigan State, Lerg went on to the ECHL’s Trenton Devils for one full season before heading overseas to play in Italy and France from 2011 to 2014. He played his first season with the Walleye in 2014-15 and is back for another go-round in 2015-16.
This season has also seen Lerg get his first taste of the AHL, albeit a small one. In 25 minutes of action for the San Diego Gulls, Lerg stopped all 11 shots he faced.
(Video via Jordan Stack)