In Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, Karl Goehring had his one night in the NHL
The UND assistant coach suited up for the Predators on Nov. 25, 2006.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Karl Goehring landed in Winnipeg on Nov. 24, 2006.
The goaltender from UND was expecting to play for the Milwaukee Admirals against the Manitoba Moose in an American Hockey League game that night, but was told there was a change of plans.
Nashville Predators starting goalie Tomas Vokoun suffered an injury the previous day. Goehring, after six years of posting outstanding numbers in pro hockey, finally got the call. He was headed to the NHL.
Goehring jumped back on a plane in Winnipeg and flew to Nashville.
"That was my chance to get up for a short window there," Goehring said. "It was kind of a blur. As a kid, it's something you dream about a lot. All of the sudden, you're getting on a flight, heading for Nashville for a game the next day."
Goehring walked into Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on a Saturday night and suited up for an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings.
It ended up being his only night.
Two days later, the Predators claimed goalie Michael Leighton off of waivers and sent Goehring back to the AHL. Despite continuing to post good numbers in the AHL, Goehring never got another chance. He did get his one night, though.
On Saturday night, he'll walk back into that same venue as UND's assistant coach as the Fighting Hawks take on Penn State in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. The memories will rush back for Goehring.
"It's still something for me, I'm very thankful for," Goehring said of his night in the NHL. "I always think about it going back there. For me, it will be special that we're able to do this game there and to kind of think about the chance I had to be in the NHL."
It was no ordinary NHL game.
The Predators and Red Wings were the two top teams in the Eastern Conference that season. Four players from that game are already in the Hockey Hall of Fame — Chris Chelios, Paul Kariya, Nicklas Lidstrom and Dominik Hasek. The Red Wings also had Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. The Predators had Ryan Suter and Shea Weber among others.
Goehring and Hasek were the backup goalies that night.
"I just remember laughing that me and The Dominator were backing up," Goehring said. "Just a standard night."
Goehring wore jersey No. 1, just as he did while tearing through the record books and winning the 2000 NCAA national championship at UND.
There were a few unique twists in the game.
Nashville's television broadcast always interviewed the backup goalie mid-game. So, Goehring was interviewed during the live broadcast.
"It was really neat," Goehring said of the entire experience. "All the guys were fantastic. You meet them at training camp and get to know a few of them. Some of them were teammates who I played with in Milwaukee and got called up."
Goehring didn't get the chance to stand between the pipes. Chris Mason started in net for Nashville and the Predators rolled to a 6-2 victory. Nashville scored five times in the second period, so the thought of putting in a backup goaltender never arrived.
The players had the following day off. Monday was a practice day. Then, Nashville picked up Leighton and sent Goehring back to Milwaukee, where he played alongside future NHL all-star Pekka Rinne.
"As a player, you always hope you get a window and hope you get as long of a chance as you can," Goehring said. "At the time, you're hoping to get a long look. For me, I had that game. Then, we had an off day. Then, we had a practice day. Then, they notified me that they picked someone up on waivers and I was headed back to Milwaukee. It's part of the business. As a pro player, you understand it, but you hope you get a chance to be there longer."
Even so, Goehring is grateful for that one night in Bridgestone Arena.
"It was pretty neat for your one cup of coffee to be that game," Goehring said. "I'm thankful that I at least got to do it once in my career."
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game
Who: No. 6 North Dakota vs. Penn State.
When: 7:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622). Alex Heinert play-by-play, Jake Brandt analysis.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM). Tim Hennessy play-by-play, Steve Olson analysis.