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Practice goalie gets a guest spot in Ducks' 2-1 win over Wild

Zach Sikich, an ex-Division 3 player, is quick fill-in when Viktor Fasth gets hurt. Sikich gets $500 and jersey for few minutes on bench behind Jonas Hiller before recalled Jeff Deslauriers arrives.

March 12, 2013|By Helene Elliott

Goaltender Zach Sikich's NHL career lasted only a few minutes. But he will have great stories to tell his son and newborn daughter about the small role he played Tuesday as the Ducks rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Wild at St. Paul, Minn.

It was the Ducks' fourth straight win and eighth straight game with a point (6-0-2).

Scheduled starter Viktor Fasth sustained an upper-body injury during the morning skate, thrusting Jonas Hiller into a starting role and leaving the Ducks scrambling for a backup.

BOX SCORE: Ducks 2, Wild 1

They recalled Jeff Deslauriers from the ECHL but weren't sure Deslauriers would arrive at the Xcel Energy Center on time.

That led David McNab, the club's senior vice president of hockey operations, to call Sikich, who had served as a practice target for the Ducks last season in Minnesota.

Sikich, a 32-year-old native of Eveleth, Minn., is a former Division 3 goalie who last played in the 2007-08 season before retiring to run the Pro Hybrid Training system and instructional camps for goalies. He signed a one-day pro tryout Tuesday for $500 and the right to keep his game jersey.

Sikich participated in the warmups wearing his distinctive, light-blue pads and sat on the bench for the first few minutes of the game, yielding his seat when Deslauriers arrived.

Sikich was back in street clothes by the time Hiller made the last of his 30 saves and Luca Sbisa blasted home the rebound of a shot by Teemu Selanne for the winner with 3:04 left in the third period, but it was a night Sikich won't forget.

"It was great. A lot of the guys remembered me. They said, 'Hey, good to see you again,'" Sikich said by phone. "That was really cool. There's a lot of positive energy in the locker room. The guys were really welcoming."

The Ducks (19-3-3) completed a three-game season sweep of the Wild despite being outplayed most of the first 40 minutes and despite losing right wing Corey Perry to a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

Perry elbowed Minnesota forward Jason Zucker in the head and was ejected at 4:21 of the second period. Zucker was helped off and did not return. Perry could face a fine or suspension.

Minnesota had taken the lead on a power-play goal by Devin Setoguchi at the 18-minute mark of the first period. The Ducks matched it at 3:06 of the third period when Patrick Maroon—with one hand on his stick—jabbed the rebound of a shot by Toni Lydman past goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The Ducks broke the tie on Sbisa's first goal this season.

"It's a pretty special character showing by our group," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And I know we use those words a lot... I thought we showed great character. And we had great goaltending. Hiller was tremendous."

Sikich said he got his $500 but didn't ask his teammates to sign his jersey.

"I think it's cool the way it is, the way I wore it," he said. "It means a lot to me just to have my last name on the back of a game-worn jersey, so that's pretty special."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

Helene Elliott reported from Los Angeles.

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