By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho – It’s been a memorable week for Idaho Steelheads goalies.
And Matt Climie created a memory Saturday night that will leave him smiling for years and years: The 26-year-old rookie got his first start in a regular-season NHL game, and the Stars came away with a 5-4 overtime victory against the St. Louis Blues.
“It hasn’t really set in yet,” Climie said from Dallas. “I was just watching some of the highlights, and it’s starting to feel real. It’s just a great feeling.”
Climie stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced. The 26-year-old became the first Steelhead to play with Idaho and in the NHL in the same season since Dan Ellis did it during the 2003-04 season. In fact, Climie became the fifth Stars goalie to win his NHL debut, and Ellis is one of the other four.
Climie said he didn’t fight too many butterflies before the game as he went through his preparations.
“But when I stepped on the ice and looked around the arena, it hit me,” he said.
Climie gave his performance Saturday night a passing grade.
“For my first game in the NHL, it went pretty good,” he said.
Dallas has been eliminated from playoff contention, but the team still has three more road games remaining.
Climie said he would be traveling with the Stars to Minnesota for a game against the Wild on Tuesday, and he hoped to get another chance to play.
“That would be unreal since I went to school (Bemidji State) in Minnesota,” he said.
While Climie was notching his win, the Steelheads were playing their final regular-season game at Qwest Arena, an 8-2 win over the Phoenix RoadRunners, and Rejean Beauchemin was back in the net for Idaho one night after playing for the Houston Aeros of the AHL (He suffered a 3-1 loss).
Beauchemin was able to make it back to Boise on Saturday, but his gear didn’t. It ended up on the Aeros’ equipment truck.
But he still wanted to play in the Steelheads’ finale, so he pieced together some gear.
“I was wearing my old pad and my old blocker, but the rest was just piecemeal,” he said. In fact, he wore equipment that belonged to three other goalies, including former Steelhead Kellen Briggs‘ helmet.
“If you’re here, you’ve got to play just to give the guys a little bit of confidence,” he said.