Edmonton Oilers Use EBUG In Final Minutes And It Was Connor McDavid’s Idea

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The Edmonton Oilers made one man’s NHL dreams a reality and it was all thanks to Connor McDavid.

The NHL emergency backup goalie, or EBUG rule, is one of the coolest things in sports, and it came into play Saturday night in Edmonton. At every NHL game, there’s an EBUG on hand in case both of a team’s netminders become unavailable.

Before Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner came down with an illness. This meant that University of Alberta goaltender Matt Berlin had to sign an amateur tryout contract just in case something happened to starter Jack Campbell.

So, the Oilers got Berlin on the blower.

“I did the EBUG last year, and then Shawn [May, Oilers communication] texted me and I thought I was going to be sitting in the stands like last year during the playoffs, and he texted me again about 4:30 p.m. saying that there was a change of plans and I was backing up tonight,” Berlin said, via NHL.com.

Berlin dropped what he was doing at the time — studying for a psych exam — and hustled down to Rogers Place.

Yeah, it could be the most important exam of your collegiate career, but if an NHL team calls you up like that you drop what you’re doing and grab your gear.

Berlin gets that because that’s what he did.

The Edmonton Oilers along with EBUG Matt Berling — No. 33 — salute the crowd at Rogers Place after beating the Blackhawks 7-3. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Berlin Got To See Some Playing Time Thanks To The Oilers Captain

Fortunately, for the Oilers, Jack Campbell made it through the game unscathed. However, they decided to give Berlin the opportunity of a lifetime and put him in the game late.

The idea reportedly came from Oilers captain Connor McDavid, and it definitely didn’t hurt that they had a cushy 7-3 lead over the Blackhawks, one of the worst teams in the league.

Still, the NHL is a different ball (puck) game than western Canada collegiate hockey.

“I thought they were joking, but [Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft] said at the three-minute mark to be ready to go and that at the first whistle after the three-minute mark I was going in,” Berlin said. “So I went into the back, did a couple of stretches, took a couple of breaths and I was in.

“My heart was pounding for the four minutes once he told me, and then once I got in there and got a drink of water I was all right.”

Berlin played just under two-and-a-half minutes and faced one shot which he stonewalled for a career save percentage of 1.000.

“First of all, it came from the players,” Woodcroft said. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a respectful way, because we have nothing but respect for the Chicago Blackhawks, their players and their coaching staff. But we just wanted to give someone an opportunity they’ll remember for the rest of their life.”

The Blackhawks famously used an EBUG, an accountant named Scott Foster, several years ago. Of course, their hand was forced by injuries, but I’m sure they’ll understand… especially if that loss helps them land Connor Bedard.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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