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Hockey

Kings’ injuries open slot for Jonah Imoo’s father, a coach, to play in net if needed

Kings’ injuries open slot for Jonah Imoo’s father, a coach, to play in net if needed
Kings players celebrate after Tanner Pearson’s shootout goal against the Canucks on Oct. 22.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

Goalie Peter Budaj was driving home from a team function for the fans in Ontario, Calif., the Kings’ minor-league affiliate, and he didn’t know what had happened in San Jose on Oct. 12.

 

“I came home and my wife and my wife told me Zats was in,” Budaj said.

 

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Zats would be Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Zatkoff was pressed into action after the first period in the Kings’ season opener at San Jose when their franchise goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a groin injury.

 

(Quick could be out about three months and Budaj left Ontario and joined the Kings.)

 

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That was a tumultuous night for the Kings in San Jose and Saturday nearly matched it with another day of strange upheaval for the organization. Zatkoff was injured during the morning skate – had to be helped off the ice in fact - and was placed on injured reserve later in the day.

 

Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter: “He stopped a shot and his groin tightened up.”

 

Of course what happens in Los Angeles directly impacts the Ontario Reign.

 

Which is where it got even more interesting. With Budaj starting in Saturday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center, the Kings recalled goalie Jack Campbell on an emergency basis, so he could back up Budaj.

 

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So goalie Jonah Imoo got the start for the Reign, his first in the American Hockey League, against San Jose’s minor-league team on Saturday.

 

Backing up Imoo … was none other than 46-year-old Dusty Imoo, Jonah’s father and the Reign’s goalie coach.

 

“I guess it’s good to have your goalie coach that close, right?” Ontario coach Mike Stothers told Lindsay Czarnecki of the Reign’s website. “This could set some kind of hockey history.”

 

Indeed, Dusty backed up his son. The Reign public relations staff tweeted that he signed a pro tryout contract and would wear No. 70, a nice move since Jonah wears No. 35 This happens to be Dusty’s second season with the Kings’ organization as a development coach. This may have been the epitome of a hands-on coach.

 

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Dusty Imoo previously was with the Winnipeg Jets for two seasons in a similar capacity as a goalie coach. He played goalie at the minor-league level, and also represented Japan at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

 

Meanwhile, the Kings’ goalie coach and former Oiler great Bill Ranford was tending some goal of his own, taking part in the Jets-Oilers alumni game in Winnipeg on Saturday.

 

Sutter got off a couple of good lines about Ranford.

 

“He coming off back surgery last year,” Sutter said after the morning skate. “He looks better this year. That’s one thing about our goalie coaches – they’re both former goalies. So if we need goalies, we’ve got several.”  

 

Still, the way things are going with the goalies in Los Angeles, Ranford might just want to extend his stay in Winnipeg.


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