It was a whirlwind evening Friday for Utica College assistant coach Adam Dekker.
After Thatcher Demko was recalled to Vancouver on an emergency basis, Dekker was thrust into the emergency backup goaltender role for the Comets’ Friday night contest against Hershey.
The 34-year-old Michigan native was on his way out to Albany, NY to play in an adult league game with a friend when he got the call. “I was about 10 miles past Little Falls when Pat Conacher called me. I looked down and I knew exactly what it was. I had to call my friend and tell him ‘hey, if you were in my shoes you’d do the same thing!’”
It’s not the first time Dekker has worked with the Comets, but it was the first time he suited for a game. The former Utica College netminder fills in during practice when needed. “I know a few of the guys and I know they could see the excitement in my face.”
The former Utica College netminder tried to take it all in stride. “Once I got there I just tried to adapt to their schedule. Everything was go, go, go. It was almost a blackout experience.”
“There were a few times last season where Pat Conacher had me on hold in case they couldn’t get someone in on time but I had been waiting almost two years for that call.”
It happened so fast he didn’t even have time to go home and change into a suit before racing to the arena to join the team. He signed his contract and it was go-time.
Dekker played at Utica College from 2004-2008, recording a career record of 47-30-7. He owns school records for shutouts in a single season (3), career wins (47), saves (2,262), shutouts (7) and games played (91).
“This is a guy who eats, drinks, and breathes hockey. Dressing for an AHL game made his decade,” said Utica College head coach Gary Heenan.
He is also no stranger to the professional levels of hockey. Dekker had stints in the Central Hockey League, International Hockey League, Southern Professional Hockey League, All-American Hockey League, and the Federal Hockey League from 2008 to 2012. Dekker was roommates with Utica Jr Comets director Bill Horton, Jr. while they were both playing with the Chicago Blaze. Horton’s mother signed as witness to Dekker’s PTO contract on Friday evening.
Dekker returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach this past season, working primarily with the goaltenders. The team clinched UCHC championship title and fell just shy of a NCAA Tournament appearance.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Just to put on an AHL sweater and go out on the ice was a dream come true.”