Everyone would have understood if Doug Caliendo didn’t suit up for his high school game Wednesday afternoon. Caliendo, 17, had lost his father, Lou, to cancer hours before the game. But instead of sitting out the game, Caliendo threw on his equipment and took the ice with his Notre Dame West Haven Green Knights teammates.
“Knowing my father for so long, he really loved the sport and always wanted me to play,” Caliendo told GametimeCT’s Joe Morelli. “He would have said, ‘Just get out there and do what I do best.’”
Through two periods, the game wasn’t going in Notre Dame’s favor. They were trailing the Northwest Catholic Lions 2-0 in the third, but Caliendo’s Green Knights were able to get back into the game thanks to two goals in the final frame, the first of which Caliendo assisted on. With regulation over, the tilt went to overtime, and even Disney would have a hard time writing this ending.
In the extra frame, a loose puck found its way to Caliendo, who stepped into it and unloaded an absolute bomb from the blueline:
“I came out to the point, stepped into it and let it go and it hit the net. I was happy,” Caliendo told Morelli. “My father was the first thing that came to my mind. He was the one who got me into this sport.”
The cheer from the crowd, the mobbing from his teammates, the point to the sky — everything about the post-game celebration from Caliendo and the Green Knights makes for a storybook ending.
Following the game, Caliendo said his dad would have loved the goal, but not for the reason you might think.
“He probably would have said, ‘At least you hit the net finally,’” Caliendo told Morelli.