With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, and a competitive game in a hostile barn on a knife’s edge, Haliburton County Huskies netminder Brett Fullerton shut out all the noise, vacated his crease, brought a bouncing puck under control by the boards, gazed down the ice and let fly.
Time seemed to stand still at Lehigh Arena, home of the rival Wellington Dukes, Dec. 1 after Fullerton recorded an uber-rare goalie goal. Not only was it the first in Huskies franchise history, it’s believed to be the first league-wide in more than 11 years.
Officially timed at 19:40, the late tally was the icing on the cake for a Huskies outfit chasing its first-ever win at the venue. It secured a 3-1 result for the blue and white.
The Highlander caught up with Fullerton and several other Huskies players and staff members this week to reflect on the goal. The 19-year-old Ancaster, ON native said it wasn’t planned, noting his instincts kicked in once he realized there was a chance.
“All I remember is them dumping it in and so I skate out to meet the puck, look up and I notice their goalie was gone, so I just shot it. I didn’t even think about it, it kinda just happened,” Fullerton said. “The rest, after that, is a bit of a blur.”
The Huskies social media manager, Noah Giordano, spotted the opportunity before Fullerton had reached the puck. The teams were all square on the ice, five-on-five, after Dukes blueliner Dimitri-Alexander Tzaferis took a tripping call at 18:59. Chasing the game, home coach Kent Lewis brought his netminder, Jack Lisson, to the bench.
“I just said ‘shoot Fully, go for it’, and he did,” Giordano said. “It was insane.”
Captain Patrick Saini was skating back into his own zone when he saw Fullerton leave the net.
“I know he likes to play the puck, so I wasn’t thinking anything of it. Then I notice him look up and I just remember thinking ‘there’s no way he’s trying this right now’,” Saini said. “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen playing hockey. You see goalie goals on clips on Instagram and it’s cool, but to see one in-person is nuts.”
Huskies forward Lucas Stevenson had a front row seat.
“I was on the ice and he ended up shooting it up my side – the puck just flew up into the air. It almost hit the scoreboard they have coming down from the roof at centre ice,” Stevenson said. “It looked like it was going to miss just to the right initially, but then it swung left, bounced, and trickled in. We all went nuts.”
Isaac Larmand was watching from the bench with bated breath. He was following the play when one of the coaches called out, “wow, he’s trying it boys.” From his angle, it didn’t look like it was going to go in. Then it did.
“It was just an explosion, none of us could believe it,” Larmand said. “We were all just in awe, coaches included. For him to do that, with a couple of Wellington forwards hounding him, it was a one-in-a-million moment, for sure.”
As those on the ice celebrated, Stevenson told Fullerton to “run the train” and mark the occasion with the rest of the team. He skated by the bench, receiving high-fives from everyone.
After the game, he was presented with the puck, which he has since taped and added the result, date and opponent.
“That’ll be a nice keepsake probably for the rest of my life,” Fullerton said. “It’s definitely something really cool. Not something you ever think you’re going to experience as a goalie. I’m glad I did it… I think this is top of the list now as far as career accomplishments go.”
The teen noted it wasn’t his first attempt – he tried for one last season while playing Jr. B with the Chatham Maroons, and again a couple years back with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit.
It was a special moment for head coach Ryan Ramsay, who has enjoyed a near 20-year career playing professionally and coaching junior without ever seeing a goalie goal in-person. He said he was delivering some final messages to some guys preparing to hit the ice when he saw the puck fly up into the air.
“I didn’t know who had shot it until it went in and everyone started going crazy,” Ramsay said. “His shot is unbelievable – it’s the hardest goalie shot I’ve seen, and he’s probably the best goalie for coming out and playing the puck [that I’ve worked with]. The kid has got a cannon. Good for him, it was a great moment.”
Fullerton’s family were able to share in the moment while watching the game live online. The goalie credits his heavy shot to his dad, Greg, who set up a shooting room in the family home for he and his brother while growing up.
“It definitely makes it more special knowing they were watching – I owe everything I have in hockey to them. They called me right after the game and said they had a bunch of family friends over at the house for the game, and everyone went crazy when I scored,” Fullerton said.
“This is something that will stick with me forever.”