McVicar's Big Chance
By: Kevin Kinghorn
The bastions of hockey lore are filled with tales of nervous goalies, guys who would vomit before games, pace through the halls, or sit wide-eyed and mute in the corner as if death itself was stalking about on the ice.
Rob McVicar isn't one of them, though the 23-year-old goalie would be a liar if he said he wasn't nervous.
Barring catastrophe, the 6'3" puck stopper from Brandon Manitoba won't likely play Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild, though, for the first time in his life, he'll dress for a regular season NHL game as Alex Auld's back up.
Marc Crawford lost a goaltender Saturday night in Denver when starter Dan Cloutier took a post in the back of the head. NHL rules stipulate that any player suffering a concussion must sit out at least seven days.
Wade Flaherty, the 37-year-old journeyman who led the minor-league Moose all the way to the Calder Cup semi-finals last season, is the most attractive candidate to fill in at the end of the Canuck bench, but he draws more than $75,000 in salary at the AHL, and thus can't be called up without first clearing waivers.
So, in steps McVicar.
Two days into November, McVicar is 2-1 with a 2.25 goals against average in spot duty with the Moose.
Much like the guy he'll be backing up Wednesday night, McVicar is a lanky goalie with strong mobility and unusually quick hands.
McVicar has spent the past six years working with the same goaltending coach the Canucks call upon, Ian Clark.
"[Ian Clark] has really done a lot for my game," McVicar told Hockey's Future in an interview earlier this year. "When I started with him, I was pure athleticism. I'd make the big save, but I'd let in the weak one or something. He really got my technique in check and I came along. Pretty much everything I've done is owed to him."
The former Brandon Wheat King who's spent parts of the past two seasons bouncing between the Manitoba Moose of the AHL and the second tier Columbia Inferno of the ECHL, was Vancouver's sixth choice, 151st overall pick in the 2002 entry draft.
McVicar never dreamed of seeing NHL ice this year, save for the pre-season kind. In fact, his goal heading into the 2005/06 campaign was simply to stick with the Moose.
"That's what I worked at all summer," said McVicar. "I want to do well in [the AHL]. It's early, and I still feel like I have a lot to prove."
If the fates keep dealing him lucky cards, McVicar might just get a chance to prove it on the biggest stage of all.