Emergency Avalanche goalie Eric Schaupeter received the text at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
“Hey, are you in town? Can you skate?” Schaupeter said of the text from Avs trainer Matt Sokolowski. “Get over here at 11 a.m.”
And so the 52-year-old Schaupeter, a grandfather of two, packed his goalie gear and drove to Family Sports Center, where he said his save percentage probably dipped to .100 in the hourlong skate.
“Oh, it’s ridiculous, they score whenever they want,” Schaupeter, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, said of the Avs’ shooters. “Today I think 10 or 12 in a row went in. Or they missed the net. When they miss the net I’m like, ‘I got that one.’ If they just muff it in there, then I’ll stop it. If they fire it like they’re supposed to in the four corners, it’s going in. That’s what they need to do. That’s why I’m there. I’m better than the Shooter Tutor (artificial target) because I move. Forces them to shoot a little better.”
Schaupeter, who lives in Highlands Ranch, stepped in for Avalanche third-string goalie Jonas Johansson, who felt ill. Regular backup Pavel Francouz remains on injured reserve but rotated in with Schaupeter as a partial practice participant.
“He and Frankie were switching off. I came down once and I’d be like, ‘This is Frankie and I need to rip one,’ and it went in easier than I expected and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s why (it’s not Francouz), ‘ ” Avs forward Tyson Jost said. “Not to knock him or anything but it’s funny. But again, we’re thankful he comes out.”
This was Schaupeter’s second practice with the Avs this season. He said he’s done it more than 200 times since 1998, a couple years after he met goalie Patrick Roy at Castle Pines Golf Club. The 2006 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee gave him some of his old equipment. Schaupeter was a caddy-master at Castle Pines back then; he’s now a real-estate agent and driver trainer for company fleets.
He used to golf with Roy and former Avs equipment manager Mark Miller. When the Avs first asked Schaupeter to be one of their emergency practice goalies, he hadn’t played the position since age 12 in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
“Patrick knew I played goal and he gave me all my equipment. I went over to his house one summer and he said, ‘Take what you need.’ And I started playing and it was about a year late (Miller) asked me to come out,” Schaupeter said.
“It’s awesome that he comes out,” Jost said. “Sometimes guys will come down and all you hear is the puck going in off the crossbar and the net just getting ripped up. But it’s fun and we really appreciate it. You don’t want to shoot on an empty net so he definitely helps.”
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