WEST VALLEY CITY (ABC4 Sports) - Jay Stevens is a 43 year old firefighter in Taylorsville. He used to responding to emergency calls. But he's also a hockey player, and last Saturday, he had to respond to another emergency, when the short-handed Utah Grizzlies needed his help.
"We had one goalie left," said Grizzlies head coach Tim Branham, "We signed an emergency backup, and then our goalie got hit in the head with a puck and had to go out for stitches, and we had to put in our emergency backup, Jay Stevens, and he did an amazing job."
"I've sat the bench a lot of times for the Grizzlies and all of a sudden its was time to go in," said Stevens. "I thought I had the best set and then all of a sudden I was in the game!"
What was thinking when the call came?
"I was thinking this can't really be happening. I'm too old to play with all these kids in a real game, and it was a really competitive game that night."
"You know, at that point in time as a coach, you're thinking about stalling," Branham said. "Stalling in time for the doctor to get the stitches done to come on the ice, but you can't say enough about what Jay Stevens did, 7 or 9 saves, whatever it was, and 2 penalty kills that we had to kill off, it was just tremendous. The boys just rallied together and got the job done."
"I did alright," Stevens added. "The pucks hit me, luckily. It could have gone the other way for sure, in front of 6,000 home fans. That was the most nervous for hockey I've even been, I played at Weber State, and we would sell out that building, but that's only 2,500 people and I was 20 years old, so that was a long time ago, so yeah, I got pretty nervous."
But his coach said, "You couldn't tell that, he was coming off the ice and we were like, 'great save, great save.' He was like, yeah, you know, normal, and that's the thing, like as a firefighter, you have to stay calm like you're saying, there's emergency situations, there's blood everywhere, people are screaming and they're fanatical, but you gotta stay calm and just do your job, and that's exactly what he did, he stayed calm, he held the fort, he made the saves, he made that great back door save that was the hardest save of the night, he just did an amazing job."
Stevens knows a lot of hockey playing firefighters.
"You know, its funny there's a lot of people, even coach Branham was a volunteer firefighter," he said. "I played with a lot of guys who played with the Grizzlies or the Idaho Steelheads that have gone on to become firefighters. I don't know if it's the adrenaline part of it, or what it is but there's definitely a correlation, but there's something there."
Jay may never get another chance to play again. This was only the second time in 12 years that the Grizzlies have had to use an emergency backup goalie. But he's going to enjoy his moment as long as he can.
"I'll be telling this story every day," Stevens said. "I'm going to get t-shirts printed. I'm going to live it forever. It was a dream come true to play for the Grizzlies. I've always loved this organization, so it was fun."
"I'm glad it happened the way it did," Branham said. "It forces your team to bond together for a common goal, so now we know that any time we put our minds to something, we can get it accomplished. That's about the team, that's how you win, that's how you win championships, with everyone on the same page."
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