Pat Bingham did what many would consider to be unthinkable yesterday afternoon at the Sports Arena and looked pretty smart doing it.
With the score tied at 2 after 65 minutes of regulation and overtime play between the Storm and Wheeling, the Nailers coach yanked his starting netminder, Joe Exter, in favor of stone-cold Tyler MacKay.
All MacKay proceeded to do was to stone four Toledo shooters in the penalty-shot shootout while his teammates got two at the other end to give the visitors a 3-2 decision.
“What would I look like if it didn t work? Bingham said. “It s just trying to know your players. It s a bit of an ego blow for Joe Exter, but he played great.
Just not when the extra point was on the line.
“It s the coach s decision and I ve got to respect that, Exter said. “I feel I gave the team an opportunity to win and I feel I could have done the job myself. You need the actual opportunity before people start making decisions about you. That s the only way you re going to know.
“The bottom line is that we got the two points. That s all we re really concerned about.
Bingham said the decision was based on what he s seen in practice.
“We practice the shootout at the end of every practice, Bingham said. “Tyler s one of the best goaltenders I ve seen in the shootout over my years of coaching. It turned out to be the right decision.
Bingham told MacKay to get ready to play early in the OT session.
“I really like the shootouts, MacKay said. “A lot of guys get really nervous. I try to stay as calm as possible.
That Exter even had a chance to be pulled is somewhat amazing.
He almost died last season when playing for Merrimack College. In a game against Boston College, Exter was kneed underneath the chin during a goalmouth collision. His mask flew off and his head hit the ice.
Exter was in a medically-induced coma for 10 days and spent a month in the hospital with a brain injury. He began his comeback with the Nailers in January.
“From what he s been through in his life, I don t think being pulled from a shootout s going to bother him all that much, Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. “From the outside looking in, I d be like, What? Are you crazy? But Bingham looks like a genius for doing it.
WALTZE MATCH: Early in the second period, Storm winger Kris Waltze was assessed a cross-checking match penalty by referee Nygel Pelletier; infraction 43AIV, deliberate intent to injure.
With Nailers defenseman Mario Larocque lying on the ice, Waltze leaned over the player and used his stick to press on the back of Larocque s helmet and neck area.
Larocque finished the contest. The incident goes to the ECHL for review and a likely suspension.
NOTES: Paul Ballantyne scored both Toledo goals. ... Captain Alexandre Jacques, expected to rejoin the Storm today after the death of his grandmother in Quebec, instead has signed a tryout agreement with former Toledo coach Claude Noel and the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League ... Former Goaldiggers coach Pete Mahovlich, now a scout for the Atlanta Thrashers, was at the game.