Last week, Jordan White was lifted out of hockey obscurity by the Vancouver media.
White, the UBC Thunderbirds goalie, filled the role of EBUG — emergency back-up goalie — for the San Jose Sharks when the NHL team was in Vancouver to play the Canucks.
At the ECHL level here in Victoria, Trevor Stead holds the EBUG role with the Victoria Salmon Kings.
At any given moment, the 22 year old is ready to step in against NHL prospects. The rest of the time he works a regular shift bartending and expediting at the Bard and Banker pub, while filling in for teams in the senior men’s Victoria Hockey League and the top tier of Hockey 101.
But it’s Stead’s daily connection to the NHL that makes life interesting right now. If either of the Canucks’ goaltending duo of Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider suffer an injury, replacing them causes a trickle-down effect that leaves the Salmon Kings with one goalie. It’s happened often over the years and Stead is ready to be there.
“I’m not in school. I’m just living it out, working and playing hockey. It’s just a chance to continue playing hockey at the highest level, which I always wanted to do,” Stead said.
Off and on throughout the season Stead has signed 24-hour, amateur-status contracts. He’s just as likely to dress for the visiting team as he is for the home team, and was recently on the Las Vegas Wranglers roster for a day.
He’s also did something EBUG’s don’t usually do when he travelled with the team to Alaska for a two-game series against the Aces on Dec. 8 and 9.
Regular goalie David Shantz played both games in net but the experience wasn’t lost on Stead.
“Everything about travelling with a team is different. It was a real eye-opener about what it’s like to play at that level. Even going through customs is different when you’re a team going through together,” he said.
Though he’s yet to register a regular season save, there’s been plenty of calls from assistant coach Ryan Wade requesting Stead’s presence at practice. In that regard, Stead’s been the team’s third-string goalie since pre-season training in the summer.
Stead has come a long way since playing his final year of junior B as a backup with the Victoria Cougars in 2008-09.
In the 2010 off-season, Stead enlisted in a free-agent pro camp held in Grand Rapids, Mich. Designed for scouts to get a peek at some off-the-radar players, the camp provided Stead with confidence moving forward.
He continued his summer preparation with (Jeff) Compton’s Sports Training Systems, where he ended up in daily on-ice sessions taking shots from fellow Cougars alumni Brandon Wong of the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors as well as a long list of pros such as NHLers Ryan O’Byrne and Jamie Benn. When the Salmon Kings pre-season training camp started without any goalies, Compton passed Stead’s name onto Wade.
For now, all Stead can do is watch.