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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Father Backs Up Son in First Professional Hockey Start - The Goal-tending Drama Continues for the Kings Organization!

     This 2016-17 season started off badly early on.  As I am sure every one is aware, this season has already been plagued with injury for the Los Angeles Kings goaltenders.  Jonathan Quick, already out for at least 3 months with a groin injury in the opening game of the season, was replaced by Jeff Zatkoff formerly of the 2016 Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins.  Tragedy struck the Kings a second time this morning during a pre-game practice skate for the game this evening with the Vancouver Canucks.  Zatkoff had to be helped off the ice in the middle of practice, and it was later confirmed that he also suffered a groin injury.  The severity of this injury has not yet been released, but Coach Sullivan did state that Zatkoff would be out a minimum of 7 days.  This puts the formerly 3rd string net-minder Peter Budaj in the 1st line position at least temporarily.  Budaj does have both of the Kings wins this season.  One in over time in the game against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, and he managed to hang on and help the Kings get their second win of the season in a shoot out tonight against the Canucks.  Budaj, even though he was only supposed to be the 3rd line goalie for the Kings, has stepped up to the plate with confidence despite a shaky start to the season.
       Having both Quick and Zatkoff out with groin injuries has caused problems for their AHL team the Ontario Reign as well.  The Reign lost Peter Budaj to the Kings of course after that first game.  Now with Zatkoff also out on the injured reserve list, the Kings were forced to call up goalie Jack Campbell to be Budaj's back up.  This afternoon the Reign found themselves without a starting goaltender for their game against the Barracuda.  They called up Jonah Imoo, an undrafted goalie on a PTO with the Kings organization this year, to be the Reign's starting net-minder.  Imoo is 22 years old and got his first ever professional hockey start tonight.  However no team can start a game without a back up goalie, and this is where things got somewhat comical for the Reign.  Without any other options for a backup goalie they called upon Jonah Imoo's father Dusty Imoo, who filled in as back up for his son.  Dusty Imoo, is of course also affiliated with the Ontario Reign team being their goalie coach normally.  So at least he has a good amount of knowledge and experience with the position as well.  Dusty is in fact a retired professional goal tender himself, though he played the better part of his goalie career with the Japaneese League team Seibu.  The elder Imoo even played for Japan in the 1998 Olympics.  Though at this time both he and the Reign head coach Mike Strothers of course agree that, Jonah, the younger Imoo is the superior player.  Sadly for the Reign and the Imoo family they fell to the San Jose Barracuda 5-4 in over time.  Nothing quite this crazy has happened with goaltenders at the professional level since December of 2015 when the Toronto Marlies called upon David Ayers, the Mattamy Athletic Centre's operations manager and zamboni driver at the Rioch Coliseum, to back up Jonathan Bernier.  Ayres was later offered an amateur  tryout contract by the Marlies in Febuary of 2016.

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