A former Sherwood Park Crusader had a night to remember on Saturday (Jan. 28).
Matt Berlin got the call from the Edmonton Oilers after Stuart Skinner, their starting goaltender, was a late scratch due to illness.
Due to the short notice, the Oilers could not call up one of their own prospects from Bakersfield, California. Instead, they looked to the University of Alberta, where Berlin currently played.
It was quite a sight to see for Oilers fans. Berlin, who now held the title of emergency backup goalie (EBUG), was suited up in the Oilers reverse retro jersey complete with green and gold U of A gear.
This wasn't Berlin's first time being an emergency backup. He was actually called in during Edmonton's playoff run last spring, though he was only in the stands and never got onto the bench or ice.
"At about 4 p.m. [on Saturday] I got a text saying 'change of plans, you're actually backing up tonight,’" said Berlin in the post-game scrum. "I was sitting there doing homework and my heartbeat spiked and I'm like 'oh my god, what's going on!'"
EBUGs rarely see game action, with only about five getting onto the ice and facing shots. The Edmonton Oilers, however, decided to make it six.
With the game winding down and the Oilers holding a demanding 7-3 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the final minutes, head coach Jay Woodcroft tapped Berlin's shoulder.
"I thought they were joking [when they told me to go in]," said Berlin. "I went back and did a couple of stretches, took a couple of breaths and I was in."
Berlin went to a loud crowd of 18,000 cheering him on. Luckily, the Oilers played well in front of the NHL freshman. He faced one shot from former Oiler, Caleb Jones which he confidently spiked away with the blocker.
Berlin played 41 games in the AJHL with the Sherwood Park Crusaders between 2016 to 2019 where he put up a 30-9-2 record. In his most recent season with the Crusaders, Berlin put up a solid .917 save percentage.