The Puck Hawgs were dominating the game.
At 6-0 after two periods, I hadn't faced many shots but I had remained sharp and stopped a few good scoring chances. I was feeling pretty good when suddenly, that word popped into my head. Shutout.
I'm not really superstitious but a long while ago I found out that thinking about a shutout inevitably leads to a goal. Or two. Or three. I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind and committed myself to focusing on the game and the next shot.
Time ticked away on the clock. Soon the game was down to just a few minutes left with the Puck Hawgs leading 10-0. The opposing team was resigned to the outcome and probably thinking more about a cold beer after the game than anything else.
Suddenly, one of their forwards burst across our blue line. One last rush with two minutes to go. The ref blew his whistle as my defenseman lifted the stick of the rusher and called a hooking penalty. It was a weak call. "He only lifted his stick!" I shouted at the ref as he skated by. "Ya, well they gotta score a goal sometime", he answered back with a grin on his face. I wasn't smiling.
Two icings later, there was a faceoff in our zone. The puck was dropped and a mad scramble took place in the slot. The puck squirted onto the stick of an opposing player and he leaned onto his stick for a wrister 6 feet in front of me. I dropped down and watched as it sailed over my glove-side shoulder and into the net. I was stunned. I don't think I've ever come as close to a shutout only to have it broken up so late in a game.
I turned around and looked at the clock. 10 seconds left. 10 seconds man. That's just not right.
I gave my team some good-natured grief in the locker room. All I got back was chirps like, "Next time maybe you should stop them all." Those guys are jerks. Don't they know that shutouts are like finding a diamond in a field for this Ancient Netminder.