Riley Sims stopped 51 of the 52 pucks sent his way while playing goalie for the Janesville Jets this past weekend.
But Sims’ biggest save of the weekend came in the hallway of his hotel room in Richfield, Minnesota.
Shortly after making 26 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Minnesota Magicians on Friday night, Sims and his teammates played a key role in contacting emergency personnel to save a choking infant.
“I was just in my hotel room and heard some screaming in the hallway. There was a mother screaming for help,” Sims said Monday. “So I went out to the hallway and immediately saw there was a baby she was holding, and the baby’s face was purple, and I could tell it was having some trouble breathing.
“I picked up my phone and dialed 911. I talked them through what the situation was. My teammates and I made sure she was down in the lobby so the paramedics could get to her quickly.
“It was a pretty crazy situation. I was definitely sweating a bit, but I tried to stay calm and make sure she was OK.”
Sims said paramedics arrived in just a few minutes.
When he and his teammates returned to the lobby about 20 minutes later, Sims said the child was recovering well and paramedics remained on scene a little while longer to monitor the situation.
“A tip of our caps to them (the paramedics) because they got there real quick,” Sims said. “After probably 20 minutes, she (the baby) was getting better. ... We stayed there with the baby’s family a little while. It turned out well.”
Surely that was the most stressful moment of what was already a busy weekend for the Jets.
After they won in a shootout Thursday night on the road against the Chippewa Steel, they traveled to Richfield for a pair of games with the Magicians.
Sims was called on for both weekend nights, helping the team to a 2-1 victory in overtime Friday and then stopping all 25 shots he faced in a 6-0 win Saturday for the series sweep and the top spot in the NAHL’s Midwest Division. Sims was named the division’s Player of the Week on Monday.
“I feel pretty confident,” Sims said. “I’m kind of taking the mentality that I’m not going to be able to play hockey my whole life, so I’m just enjoying it. Especially with my teammates, just being in the locker room, it’s so nice to get in there and feel comfortable with everyone and feel like we’re a pack of brothers.
“We’re going into a long stretch, and we’re just taking it day by day. Like our coaches have said from the start, we’re just trying to go 1-0 every day, and we’ve been able to do that lately. We’re just looking forward to keep doing that together and enjoying the process.”
Rightfully so, the save made by Sims and his teammate to save the baby Friday night took some attention away from how the Jets won their game in overtime.
Charlie Schoen, an Arizona State recruit, added a new highlight to his reel.
After the Magicians missed a shot, Schoen collected a long rebound that caromed along the boards up the right side of the ice. He skated in all alone and faked like he was going to try a forehand wrist shot. Schoen instead played the puck through his legs to himself and lifted a backhand shot over the sprawling goalie for a game-winning goal with two minutes left in overtime.
“About two weeks before the break, Charlie and I were talking about how bringing it (the puck) from one side of your body all the way to the other is changing the angle up for the goalie and how it is very hard to stop,” Sims said. “So that was a work in progress. I knew Charlie was thinking about doing that in a game, but it was crazy that he did it in overtime.”
The Jets went 18 days without a game between their March 20 game against the Magicians and Thursday’s game at Chippewa.
The Thursday game, though, started a stretch of what is scheduled to be 18 games played in the course of 39 days.
This past weekend was the first of six consecutive three-game weekends.
“Obviously we’ve got to take care of our bodies down the stretch,” Sims said. “I think during those couple weeks off we prepared really well. Every single day we came to practice with a mindset and goal for that certain day, and we’ve been able to accomplish that.
“Now it’s taking care of the bodies and making sure we’re all good mentally.”
The Jets play Chippewa three more times this week. Janesville will host games Thursday and Saturday, and the teams will play at Chippewa on Friday night.
Playing time for two
One thing is for certain: With that busy schedule, Janesville’s goalies will stay busy.
Sims is among the NAHL’s leaders, ranking fifth with a .925 save percentage and ninth with a 2.41 goals against average. He has an 11-2-1-0 record this season.
Owen Millward is 9-7-1-0 with a 3.52 GAA and .892 save percentage.
Jets first-year coach Parker Burgess said earlier this season he will not use one goalie for every game when the team plays three times in three nights, so both Sims and Millward will be counted on down the stretch.
“‘Milly’ and I are getting along really well, so that makes things really easy,” Sims said. “It’s always a lot more enjoyable when you’re good friends with your goalie partner. It’s also nice that we’re both really competitive because every day in practice we bring out the best in each other. I think that’s really special and is helping our team.”