Kurtis Mucha, a 24-year-old environmental science student at University of Alberta, grew up cheering for the Edmonton Oilers. On Wednesday, he took the ice to help the Boston Bruins face off against them.
When the Bruins rolled in to YEG on Wednesday, they were without Tuukka Rask who was battling the flu. Michael Chan, a video coach with the University of Alberta Golden Bears who also helps the Oilers with video analysis, overheard the Bruins goaltending need and put them in touch with Kurtis Mucha.
Needing a second goalie for the day's practice, the Bruins called on Mucha. Mucha, the reigning Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) goalie of the year, jumped at the opportunity to skate with some of hockey's best players.
After hearing about the day's events, I reached out to Kurtis to ask him about his experience. Here's what he had to say on Thursday:
Q. When you received the news that the Bruins wanted you for practice, how were you told?
A. I got a call from my teams video coach who helps out with some of the Oilers video as well. The Bruins assistant coach went to the Oilers asking if they knew someone in town [who] could practice with them today because Rask was sick, so my coach was there and offered me up and he called me and set me up with the Bruins coach.
Q. I heard that you were excused from a final for the practice, how'd that conversation go?
A. I'm actually still dealing with the logistics with my faculty so waiting on their decision. My professor was cool with it, but she said I have to talk to the Dean. That conversation is happening today.
Q. How were you greeted when you suited up and joined the practice? Were you chirped much during practice?
A. I received a warm welcoming from Claude Julien and all the trainers. The guys were really nice to me, as well, and all introduced themselves. Not much chirping, no, haha. I knew a couple guys from my junior days so I talked with a few of them.
Q. A few Bruins were in the WHL while you were, do you remember playing against any?
A. I remember Lucic and [Matt] Fraser back in junior. Lucic was a beast back then; always hated playing against him. He's a true competitor. And Fraser is a skilled forward with an unreal shot.
Q. Did any Bruins in particular stand out on the ice?
A. I think Bergeron scored the most on me. He went cross bar and in a few times, so he stood out the most. Obviously Chara, with his size alone, did as well.
Q. Did you receive any advice or evaluation on your game from coaches or players?
A. Claude Julien said I looked good out there so that was cool, but most of the guys were just thankful that I came out and gave them another goalie to shoot on.
Q. What was the biggest difference between facing CIS [the Canadian equivalent of NCAA] skaters and those from the NHL?
A. The biggest difference would be the accuracy of the shots. Of course they were a lot faster and harder too, but those guys can really put the puck wherever they want to on net.
Q. Did the Bruins give you anything to commemorate the occasion?
A. Chara, Iginla, Krejci and Lucic all gave me their sticks and signed them. [I also got] a team signed hat as well.
Q. What was the first thing you did after practice?
A. Other than being bombarded by the media I just sat in my car for a few minutes and let it all sit in. Also my Twitter and iPhone were blowing up so I dealt with that for a few hours, haha.
Q. Last one - did you bring extra hand sanitizer?
A. Haha, no sanitizer. It all happened so fast I only had time to get to the rink and make it out for practice.
More about Kurtis Mucha...
*Thanks again to Kurtis for taking the time to speak with me and for Stan Marple, GM of the Golden Bears for accommodating my request.*