For every athlete, there comes a time when you have an “oh crap” moment. For Minnesota Wild rookie forward Erik Haula, that came in today’s practice.
Everything was fine and dandy in today’s pregame morning skate when Haula fired a high shot that would hit goaltender Josh Harding near the throat. In pain, Harding skated over towards the bench and down the tunnel, but would return no worse for wear about five minutes later. However, one would have to think Haula had to be more than a little shaky afterwards. According to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher “looked sickened and white as a ghost”.
In an attempt to lighten the mood in the room afterwards, Wild enforcer Zenon Konopka couldn’t help but comment, “I’m pretty sure he wet his pants”. And rightly so. This season, Harding–the 38th overall pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft–has established himself as one of the best goalies in the league, notching a 17-5-3 record, a league-leading 1.49 goals against average, a .939 save percentage and three shutouts. His 17 wins and save percentage rank second-best in the league and his three shutouts are tied for the league lead.
Thankfully, Harding will be good to go for tonight’s matchup with Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. And you can bet Erik Haula is thanking his lucky stars.