The Calgary Flames had a busy schedule over the past week, but one player had an even busier week than the rest: defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon.
The 23-year-old native of British Columbia one-upped the common experience of many junior and minor-league hockey players; they often play three games in three nights, but Wotherspoon pulled off the very rare four-in-four.
FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – STOCKTON, CA
The Stockton Heat beat the Iowa Wild by a 5-1 score at Stockton Arena. Wotherspoon played second-pairing minutes alongside Ryan Culkin, behind the top pair of Dustin Stevenson and Brett Kulak. He had a primary assist on the eventual game-winning goal.
SATURDAY, MARCH 19 – BAKERSFIELD, CA
The Heat won a crazy one, besting the Bakersfield Condors by a 6-5 score in overtime. The Heat lost three players to game misconducts (including Dustin Stevenson) and one to injury, and so Wotherspoon was leaned on quite a bit more than he was on Friday night. He was minus-3 in a crazy game.
The Flames recalled Wotherspoon from Stockton early on Sunday.
SUNDAY, MARCH 20 – MONTREAL, QC
After being whisked from the AHL to the NHL to take Deryk Engelland’s spot in the line-up (as he left the team to attend to personal matters back home), Wotherspoon played 14:37 in a Flames 4-1 victory over Montreal. He was minus-1.
MONDAY, MARCH 21 – TORONTO, ON
Finally, the four-in-four stretch for Wotherspoon ended in Toronto, as the Flames lost 5-2 to the Maple Leafs. Wotherspoon played 18:43 – the second-most he’s played in his short NHL career – and was minus-1 on the night.
SUM IT UP
What’s more impressive? That Wotherspoon did a four-in-four, or that his teams won three out of four games during that stretch?
The most telling thing that this week probably reflects is the level of trust that the organization has in Wotherspoon. Once Engelland left the team, somebody from the AHL was going to pull off a four-in-four by virtue of being short-notice emergency recalls. They chose Wotherspoon for the unique burden, which probably indicates that they felt his play was steady enough that he could handle it without falling to pieces during the final game.
He’ll be up for one more game before Engelland returns; fortunately, this time, with two days of rest:
Bob Hartley says Deryk Engelland won’t play tomorrow in Minnesota. Returns to the team Saturday vs. Chicago. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 23, 2016
Kudos, Mr. Wotherspoon. Congratulations on the unique accomplishment, and hopefully you never have to do it again.