By Sean Rooney on May 8, firstname.lastname@example.org
Of all the big games Marek Langhamer had this season, none could possibly compare to suiting up for his home country and beating Canada.
So when the goalie from the Czech Republic put his signature on a contract from the Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday, he had to think back to a performance that clearly piqued the NHL teams’ interest.
It was Dec. 28 in Malmo, Sweden at the World Junior Championships when Langhamer —who had a decent first half with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers —had Canadians asking ‘who is this guy?’
He made 25 saves plus two more in the shootout, the last coming when 16-year-old Connor McDavid had the puck fall off his stick.
It was the Czech Republic’s first win against Canada in 15 tries at the tournament.
“That’s as good as it gets,” he said of the victory.
“My agent told me they (Phoenix) were watching me the entire second half including world juniors. I’m really glad for that.”
The confidence from the junior tournament spilled over into the final months of his WHL season, where he finished with a 2.58 goals against average and .913 save percentage, both among the top 10 in the league.
In playoffs Langhamer played all 18 games, finishing with a 2.35 GAA and .934 save percentage. He was a huge reason the Tigers got to the conference finals and flat-out stole the lone game they won against Edmonton, making 43 saves in a 2-1 decision April 22.
Medicine Hat showed confidence in the 19-year-old too, trading away fellow veteran Daniel Wapple in January just as Langhamer returned to the team.
“After Waps got traded I knew it was my team,” said Langhamer, whom the Coyotes picked in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. “I did everything I could to win every game.”
His future now likely resides in the Coyotes organization, though they could theoretically send him back to the Tigers for his 20-year-old season. Langhamer was in the Tigers office to sign the entry-level deal Wednesday —tweeting a picture of the moment along with the message “I’m really excited to become a part of Phoenix Coyotes organization. Also wanna thank @tigershockey and my family.”
He’ll return home for a month before returning to Calgary to train.
“It doesn’t happen every day,” he said of signing the contract. “It was a great feeling. It’s hard to put into words; it’s a dream come true for me.”
That’s not to say his time with family and friends will be spent whooping it up, however.
“I’ve got to start doing something like working out,” he said. “I can’t sit on the couch and celebrate a whole month.
“It’s just the beginning of something new.”
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