Sports

Win over Flames a ‘dream come true’ for Calgary native Logan Thompson


CALGARY — The only thing standing between the Flames clinching a playoff spot Thursday was a rookie netminder from Calgary who got his chance to live out a dream.

Trusted with the starting assignment in a game his Vegas Golden Knights needed desperately to win to keep their playoff chase rolling, 25-year-old Logan Thompson emerged the hero in a 6-1 win over the Flames.

“I think after the game, leaving the ice, it was a ‘Holy Crap’ moment,” said Thompson, following a 35-save performance in his first NHL appearance at the Saddledome, where he grew up idolizing Miikka Kiprusoff.

“’You just won in your hometown.’ Definitely some emotions going through me. It’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. Really excited and couldn’t be happier.

“I remember playing against the Hitmen here and getting a win was always cool. There was a time when I never imagined I’d play against the Flames, so getting that win and playing in this rink is a dream come true.”

It was a moment he admits he couldn’t have envisioned following a junior career with Brandon that left him without professional options.

“After my 20-year-old year, every team basically told me to go to school,” said Thompson, who played the next season at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.

“So, I think that’s kind of when the dream died and I kind of gave up for a bit.”

Ironically, it was a conversation with then-Wheat Kings owner Kelly McCrimmon — his current GM in Vegas — that pointed him to U Sports.

“After my 20-year-old year we sat down and he said, ‘LT I think you should go to school. If you sign an NHL contract I’ll buy you a case of beer.’ When I signed in the middle of COVID, I told him he owed me beer, so I’m still waiting on it.”

Stepping in to save the Golden Knights’ season after Robin Lehner went down with an injury a month ago, Thompson and his 8-4 record have him in line for much more than a brick of Budweiser from McCrimmon.

He may have saved the Golden Knights’ season.

“I still owe him, that’s fair,” chuckled McCrimmon, who kept an eye on Thompson as he went from Brock to various ECHL and AHL stints.

“LT always had obvious talent. Very athletic. In general, he has made a really good impression in our organization. He was really solid last year in Henderson (where he was AHL goalie of the year). This year he has been up a lot and started seven in a row.

“I said to (fellow Golden Knights executive) George (McPhee) the other day when we were watching practice, ‘some guys when they get to the NHL they have a chance to improve.’”

Thompson out-dueled Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar Thursday in a game that saw the former lifted after allowing four goals on 17 shots. It was the second straight early exit for Markstrom, adding to a narrative suggesting the Vezina candidate needed more rest this season.

A debate for another day.

The Flames did well to match the Knights’ intensity in a 1-1 first period in which Markstrom was sensational and the Flames were charged up by a Keegan Kolesar shoulder to the head of Chris Tanev that prompted the defender to leave briefly for observation.

As the Flames spent time chasing Kolesar, it was all Vegas and Thompson from there, as has often been the case of late.

Thompson has now gone 5-0 with a 1.59 GAA and .949 save percentage his last five outings, when his ninth-place club has needed him most.

Not bad for a guy whose first NHL start on Jan. 4 was the first time a U Sports goalie started an NHL game in 32 years.

So focused is the lad who grew up in McKenzie Towne that he didn’t even realize his win prevented his childhood team from clinching a playoff berth.

“I had no idea,” smiled Thompson, whose composure is far beyond his 14 games of NHL experience.

“Every time I get a start I don’t want to let the team or the coaching staff down. Luckily things are going my way right now. This is the most exciting time of the year and I want to keep enjoying every minute of it.”

The loss was Calgary’s first in six outings, which coach Darryl Sutter said had plenty to do with his team not being able to match the desperation of the Knights.

He lamented having to pull Markstrom.

“I don’t like doing that,” said Sutter, whose team opened the scoring on the power play.

“I’ve said that always, I’m not a guy who pulls goalies. But I think tonight was different. The other night was trying to get some momentum out of our team, because it was after the second period. But tonight, it was more I thought the players really let him down. I didn’t want to leave him in there.”



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