Fifteen minutes of hockey fame
"In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." Pop artist Andy Warhol made that prediction in the 1960s, and in 2013 that prediction came true for Zachary Sikich ’05. On Tuesday, March 12, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, he suited up for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks – for 15 minutes.
Actually, Sikich may not have received his full 15 minutes. He estimated that his time on the Ducks’ bench was more like 12 to 14 minutes. Still, he was in the NHL with the Ducks, who were taking on the Minnesota Wild that night.
The Ducks won 2-1, but Sikich also won. He made it to the NHL, a goal that Sikich had set for himself years earlier. After playing three seasons for St. Thomas, Sikich played three years of minor league hockey in an effort to get to the NHL. Along the way he made stops in Fraser, Michigan; Jacksonville, Fla.; Long Beach, Calif., Danbury, Conn.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Phoenix, Ariz., Elmira, N.Y., Quebec, Canada, and – as if he hadn’t traveled enough – Beijing, China.
On March 12, deep within the Xcel, and just minutes east of St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus, Sikich suited up for the Ducks as the back-up goalie to replace Viktor Fasth, who was out with an injury. He knew that his stint with the Ducks might not last long. Head coach Bruce Boudreau told him that goalie Jeff DeLauriers had been called up from the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL, a Ducks' farm team, and that DeLauriers might arrive during the game.
DeLauriers arrived early in the first period, and Sikich’s 15 minutes came to an end. Sikich left the bench, showered, brought his equipment to his car with the help of a valet, and then from the Xcel press box watched the rest of the game when he wasn’t being interviewed by various media.
Still, it was an exciting experience. Everyone in the Ducks organization – from the equipment manager to the head coach – made him feel welcome and “connected” to the team, Sikich said. He had skated with the Ducks in practice a year ago when they were in town and needed a fill-in goalie, so he was not unknown to the Ducks. Many of the players remembered him and welcomed him as the team prepared to take on the Wild.
Boudreau told Sikich that he had hoped the Ducks could establish a safe lead so he could give him a few minutes of ice time late in the game, Sikich said, but with DeLauriers’ early arrival, that was not to be. Still, Sikich left with a nice paycheck, his Ducks’ No. 31 jersey and NHL memories.
The Ducks can count on him for future emergencies, too, as he gets plenty of practice time as founder of ProHybrid Training, which specializes in training goalies both on and off the ice – goalies who, no doubt, have dreams of playing in the NHL someday.