Roseau's Jason Fabian steps into professional hockey game after not skating for more than a year
Fabian was asked to play for the Pensacola Ice Flyers, because their roster was decimated by injuries and COVID-19 protocol. In his second game, he scored the game-winning goal.
It was a normal Saturday night for Jason Fabian.
The 32-year-old contract worker for Applied Research Associates was unwinding at his Fort Walton Beach, Fla., home after another day of chasing around his two children, both under the age of 2.
His phone rang at about 8 p.m.
It was Pensacola Ice Flyers coach Rod Aldoff, who also led the team back when Fabian filled in for a few odd games after his collegiate career at Air Force Academy ended in 2014.
Aldoff told Fabian the Ice Flyers' roster had been decimated by injuries and COVID-19 protocol. He wanted Fabian, who hadn't played a pro hockey game in four years, to suit up the following day at 5 p.m.
"The last time I played was 2018," Fabian said. "The only reason I knew that was because I looked it up. I used to play in a men's league but I don't play any more. My wife just had a baby and I'm busy with toddlers and infants. I hadn't skated in a year before warmups. That's not an exaggeration. I had not skated in an entire year."
But on Dec. 26, the Roseau High graduate made the hour-long drive to Pensacola, threw on a No. 21 jersey, and played in a Southern Professional Hockey League game.
"I showed up for warmups," Fabian said, "got about 15 minutes of skating in, doing some passes and shots, then got right into the game."
Fabian thought he would be playing limited minutes. But Pensacola had only 13 skaters, so there weren't a lot of options. He played about 10 shifts in the first period alone.
Pensacola won the game 3-1. Fabian only ended up on the scoresheet once — serving a too many men penalty.
"When were called for too many, the coach was looking around to send someone to serve it," Fabian said. "I stood up and said, 'I'll go.' Letting me go sit for a few minutes sounded great."
Four days later, Dec. 30, Fabian returned to play for Pensacola again.
"Everyone was asking me how I felt," Fabian said. "(Thursday) was the first day I wasn't sore. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. . . I was hurting."
During his second game, Fabian scored the game-winning goal.
The Ice Flyers got a power play with 8:50 to go in the third period. Kyle Wendorf, who usually plays net front on the power play, was in the penalty box serving a five-minute major for fighting.
The 6-foot-4 Fabian stepped into his spot and tipped a puck in the net. It was his first goal for the Ice Flyers since the 2014-15 season.
Fabian, who scored the game-winning goal and was named the first star in his Ice Flyers debut seven years earlier, scored the game-winning goal and was named the third star in his last game.
"You don't need to write about anything in between," Fabian said.
Fabian is uncertain whether he will play for the Ice Flyers again. They asked him to go on the team's road trip to Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 31-Jan. 1, but with two young children, that wasn't feasible. Pensacola got swept.
The Ice Flyers have four home games scheduled for January.
"I'm not sure if they're getting guys back from injury or not," Fabian said. "They told me to keep my phone on."