When former Boston College Eagles hockey alumnus Chris Venti woke up yesterday morning, he was not expecting the he would end the night on an NHL bench. But with the New Jersey Devils down a goalie due to an injury to Cory Schneider, Venti was called upon to act as backup while Ken Appleby took over in net.
Venti is one of six emergency backup goaltenders that the Boston Bruins rotate through in the event of a goalie injury. This means that he shows up to every game he is signed up for with his gear and is given tickets to watch the game. That way, a backup is at the rink already if a team goes down a goalie. Venti continues to play hockey in the Southie Men’s League for fun, but the chances of getting called into an NHL game (or even down to the bench) as an emergency backup are slim.
This far into the season, Venti is used to the routine and did not think he would end up in a game. He purposefully signed up for nights when the Bruins would be playing teams featuring BC alumni, which he jokingly says was in hopes that “they’d pay off their backup goalie to let me get in.” In fact, Venti was texting with BC alumni and current New Jersey players Jimmy Hayes and Brian Gibbons before last night’s game, jokingly trying to convince them to get Schneider or Appleby to fake sick so he could dress for the Devils.
Like any other weekday, Venti spent the day at work and then dropped off his gear at the rink. Before heading over to the game, he met up with his girlfriend (former Boston College women’s soccer player Steph Wirth) and her family for dinner. When the third period was about to start, Venti turned to Wirth to tell her that he didn’t see Schneider coming out of the tunnel. That’s when she caught this picture of him receiving the call that he was needed on the bench:
Venti was shocked when he got the call. “I did know it could potentially happen,” he said, “but I never thought in a million years it would.” Schneider was the first person to meet Venti in the locker room, and the two got a chance to catch up as Venti got ready. This allowed Venti to see that the injury didn’t seem too serious, so he could relax and take everything in instead of worrying about his friend.
Getting the chance to dress for a Bruins / Devils game was particularly special to Venti. The Bruins are his hometown team, but the Devils have as many as 6 former Eagles on the roster at any given time (Schneider, Hayes, Gibbons, Brian Boyle, Steve Santini, and Miles Wood). “I’m definitely a converted Devils fan,” Venti admitted, “there’s way too many BC guys playing for them to not root for them.”
Venti’s favorite part of the night was getting a chance to hang out with Hayes and talk about the experience. After the game he “couldn’t stop smiling and felt 10 yrs old again.” And as for that official Devils jersey? Hayes will be bringing it back to Boston for his friend during the All-Star break.
Despite the once in a lifetime experience of dressing for an NHL game, Venti assured BCI that last night wasn’t his number 1 memory at the TD Garden ... because “nothing will ever replace the Beanpots!”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a BCI interview if we didn’t all include the Official BC Interruption Questionnaire:
Favorite Taylor Swift song? Bad Blood
Cats or dogs? My dog Hank
Favorite place you’ve travelled? Normandy Beach in France
If you could be on any reality TV show, which would you pick? Shark Tank
Which teammate (past or present) would you want to be trapped on a desert island with? Brooks Dyroff because he’d figure out a way to get us off it.