DALLAS — Before the curtain came down on the regular seasons of both the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks, one of the more heartwarming stories from the season emerged on the American Airlines Center ice, a moment both teams could enjoy.
Thomas Hodges, an emergency back-up goalkeeper based in Dallas, was pressed into duty for the Ducks when both their goalkeepers, John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz, were injured during the game. Hodges, 28, made two saves on three shots in the third period of the Stars’ 4-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday. Hodges was born in England and moved to Dallas when he was 11, eventually attending SMU and playing on the club hockey team at the school.
A few years later, while trying out for, and eventually joining, an ECHL team, the Allen Americans in Allen, Texas, Hodges caught the attention of Stars assistant general manager Mark Janko, who was looking for an emergency keeper for the Stars.
Hodges has been with the Stars in that capacity since 2019, but nothing could have prepared him for actually logging real NHL minutes, even if it was against the team that employs him. (The emergency keeper at an NHL game could be used by either team, not just the home team.)
It looked for all the world that the Stars would finish as the second wild card and take on Western Conference regular-season champion Colorado, but a riveting comeback played out in Arizona, where the Coyotes scored five unanswered goals in defeating the Nashville Predators 5-4, allowed the Stars to move past the Predators and into the first Wild Card position. Instead of the Avalanche, the team who led the league in points for most of the season, Dallas will take on the Calgary Flames in the first round of the NHL playoffs, with Flames holding the home-ice advantage.
Earlier in the week, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who announced his retirement earlier in the month, played in his final game. Getzlaf, 36, was drafted in the first round by the Ducks, No. 19 overall, in 2003, and was an integral member of the 2007 Ducks team that won the franchise’s only Stanley Cup. The Ducks’ captain for the past 11 seasons, Getzlaf is one of 13 players in NHL history to win two Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014) and a Stanley Cup (2007), and ends his career with 282 goals and 1,019 points in 1,157 games.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.