John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks has been considered the next great thing in goaltending for a few years now. With incumbent netminder Jonas Hiller struggling and the Ducks already assured of a playoff spot, Anaheim pulled the trigger on giving Gibson his first-ever NHL start last night, as they faced off against the Vancouver Canucks.
And he passed his first NHL test with the proverbial flying colors, as the 20-year-old Pittsburgh, PA native stopped all 18 shots Vancouver threw at him en route to a 3-0 shutout victory for the Ducks.
Gibson, Anaheim’s second-round pick in 2011 (No. 39 overall), has had hype building around him for some time now. He backstopped Team USA’s under-18 squad to a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, then repeated the feat for the under-20 team in 2013, while being named tournament MVP with a 5-2 record and a 1.36 goals-against average. Later that same year, he was chosen as part of Team USA for the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships, and the then-19-year-old went 3-1 with a 1.56 GAA as the U.S. took home bronze.
For most of the 2013-14 season, Gibson has been the starting netminder for the Norfolk Admirals, the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate, posting a 21-17-4 record. His 2.34 GAA is currently fourth-best in the AHL.
And now, he’s had one of the most memorable NHL debuts a goaltender can have.
Some fun facts about tonight’s NHL action- all three games ended in shutouts (Anaheim 3, Vancouver 0; Calgary 1, New Jersey 0; and Minnesota 1, Winnipeg 0), and this was the final game in Vancouver for Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. When Selanne made his NHL debut, the goalie he played with tonight (Gibson) hadn’t even been born yet. After 22 NHL seasons, Selanne is retiring at year’s end.