After hanging around the New Jersey Devils organization for nearly six years, goalie Scott Wedgewood finally made his National Hockey League debut on Sunday night. He picked up a win, becoming the first Devils netminder to win his first game since someone called Martin Brodeur.
The 23-year-old Brampton native was drafted by New Jersey in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, going 84th overall. He’s since seen action with the ECHL’s Trenton Titans and with the AHL’s Albany Devils, but the time finally came for a call-up to the big club against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.
The Devils have been contending with an injury to Cory Schneider, who’s missed the past six games since sustaining a Grade 1 MCL sprain on March 4 against the Dallas Stars. The plan is for Schneider to return to practice this week.
Keith Kinkaid saw action in covering for Schneider, but he’s been less than stellar. The Devils have allowed 17 goals in the past three games ahead of Sunday’s win, if you can believe it, so the time was right for Wedgewood to see his big chance.
The door isn’t closed on Kinkaid, luckily. The 26-year-old from Farmingville put up two shutouts in 20 games and has a 2.88 goals against average with a .899 save percentage. Head coach John Hynes says he’ll get another chance.
“The opportunity is not over. This isn’t all on Keith Kinkaid,” Hynes said. “It’s never on one player. It’s collective. Keith has played well for us and it’s still a growth process for him. He’s an important part of our team. He’s an important player.”
As for Wedgewood, he’s going to make the most of his opportunity. He let in one goal in 27 shots on Sunday and has been breaking down what went wrong ever since, as debuting goalies are prone to do.
“At the last second. There was a little bit of moving screens in front of me,” he said. “I kind of felt like I drifted a little bit trying to get low and find the puck. The guy in front of me tipped it at the last second between my hand and my hip. If I had to re-do it, I’d probably stay maybe a foot higher.”
Wedgewood may return to Albany in short order, especially if Schneider returns to action soon. But for now, with the starter on the shelf and Yann Danis sent down to the AHL, opportunity knocks for this kid from Brampton. Here’s hoping he makes the most of it.