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Top Stories of 2023 – No. 4: U of A Golden Bear Matthew Berlin becomes an NHL goaltender

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
Continuing along with our top stories of the year 2023, at No. 4, we have Matthew Berlin’s NHL debut.
Just ahead of the All-Star break in late January, Stuart Skinner was out with an illness, so the Oilers signed Berlin, a goaltender for the University of Alberta Golden Bears, to a one-day contract to serve as the team’s emergency backup in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jack Campbell got the start and turned aside 25 of 28 shots and the Oilers lit Petr Mrazek up for seven goals on 43 shots. With just a few minutes left in the third period and Edmonton up by a score of 7-3, Campbell was taken out so that Berlin could finish the game. Berlin faced one shot and turned it aside and now has a 1.000 save percentage next to his name at the NHL level.
After the game, head coach Jay Woodcroft said that it was captain Connor McDavid’s idea to get Berlin into the net so he could experience NHL action. Berlin himself said that he thought the coach was joking when he was being told to be ready to play.
“It wasn’t meant for any other purpose than giving a young man life experience that he’ll never forget,” Woodcroft said. “I’m sure he will carry that memory with him for the rest of his life. He’ll be in the record books as having played in the National Hockey League.”
“We were just trying to give a cool moment to someone who was here,” McDavid said. “He lived out a dream to play in the NHL. “It’s nice to see a moment like that… He’s a young kid. You never know what his path can do. Maybe we’ll see him one day in the league. For today, he’s played in the NHL. That’s something he can hang his hat on for a while.”
“I thought they were kidding,” Berlin said. “I thought they were joking. “Coach [Woodcroft] said, ‘At the three-minute mark, be ready to go. The first whistle after the three-minute mark, you’re going in.’”
“It might be the most memorable save I’ve made in my career,” Berlin said about stopping a shot from Chicago defender Caleb Jones. “It was very special.”

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